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For Love Or Money: Caring For The Elderly

Updated on October 19, 2015
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Elder Care

Caring for the elderly is one of the biggest challenges that anyone may have to face. I have done it for pay and I have done it for love, and I can say that the amount that you get paid is not near enough compensation for the high stress, level of difficulty, or the bad press that caretakers often receive. There are many different reasons why an elderly person may need specialized care. It can be that they are no longer physically able to care for themselves or it can be that their mental facilities have deteriorated to the point that is no longer safe for them to be alone. Some older people only need help a few hours a week for difficult chores or companionship, while other need around the clock care. If you have a live in job, the stress level can be extraordinary. Not only are you trying to provide excellent care for your charge, you also may have to deal with family members. Some can be an asset, while others are, quite frankly, a pain in the neck. I have worked in a geriatric unit of a state facility and I have worked in private homes. Currently, I have now living in my parents home, trying to provide both of them with care with very little resources.

State Facilities And Private Care

When I worked in a state facility, there were many specialized units from child to elderly adult. I floated, which meant that I worked everywhere. Back then, I had just graduated with my psychology degree and I was eager for experience. My elderly friends were happy to oblige. I had a few people that chose me to be their special friend, (this is not uncommon) and I learned as much from them as from my classes. Many were there because they had no one else to care for them and due to dementia, senility, or other mental deficiencies, they were unable to care for themselves. The facility that I worked in had many dedicated people on staff, and the patients received excellent care. The support system in place kept the stress level down and provided a level of insulation from the patient's family members, allowing us to provide better care, while someone else dealt with the family's concerns.

Working in the private sector can be lucrative, but it comes with it's own special set of problems. For one, you are usually the only one caring for your charge and everything falls on you. If you are a 24 hour caretaker, you must have responsible help in case you need to leave the premises or you must take your charge wherever you go, if they are ambulatory. I remember when Hurricane Floyd came through we had one non-ambulatory patient that we had to take with us out of town. We fixed up a bed in the back of a van and drove her right out with us. If your patient is ambulatory, but suffers from dementia, it can be interesting to take him on an outing. It is good to have a sense of humor, because some of them will say or do anything! One older woman I cared for was constantly asking people to marry her. In addition, the family members of your patient can be difficult, often treating you as an employee of their's rather than as an independent contractor, providing a service, which is what you are.


Caring For Your Elderly Loved Ones

I am at an age when my parents are not as well as they used to be and, as a result, they are in need of care. This can be an especially difficult undertaking. I come from a traditional Italian family and in the best of times, my parents are challenging. It becomes a balancing act; trying to do the right thing and take care of them and try to keep my independence and have my own life. Currently, I am living with them in their home and have been for a little over a year. This can be a workable situation depending on the family dynamic, but in my case, it is not. I have decided that I can be of more help to them in a supportive role, rather than as a primary caretaker. So, within the next year, I plan on moving out.

My experience this past year is one of stress and frustration. Because I am their child, they still see me that way and, thus, I have become a hindrance to their continued progress. They are both still ambulatory and will do many things for themselves if I am not around. Unfortunately, since I have been living here they have fallen into the habit of leaving everything that needs to be done to me. Both of my siblings live out of state, so I am the only one close enough to help. I still plan on helping them with the things that are beyond their capabilities, but I will not be available around the clock. I love my parents very much and I believe that they will live longer if they stay active as long as possible. I have come to the conclusion that I am enabling them and any attempt on my part to encourage their independence is met with resentment.

I also believe that I have to take care of myself and stay healthy in mind and body in order to be of any assistance to my parents, now or in the future. Doing that while living in their home has become an impossibility. In addition, I need my own home and privacy, just as they need theirs. In any event, while we all had good intentions, I believe my move was premature. I fully intend to be up for the challenge when their needs become more acute.

For those who have to live with elderly parents (or vice-versa), I strongly recommend joining a support group, either online or locally. There are many available. Even in the best of situations, caring for your parents can be highly stressful and talking with others in the same situation can be very beneficial. I also recommend, if possible, that you share the responsibility with any available family members so that you do not become overwhelmed. For those who have insurance benefits, look into having help come in once or twice a week. Most importantly, take care of yourself first, so that you will be able to care for others.

Have you considered caring for your elderly parents yourself?

See results

© 2010 Mary Krenz


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    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 6 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      Good for you, you are truly a selfless person. May God bless you!

    • lj gonya profile image

      lj gonya 6 years ago

      Been there, done that. I have been taking care of elderly relatives since I was thirteen, and am now caring for my 90 year old mother-in-law who is living with us. Taking care of loved ones and at the same time, taking care of yourself, is a balancing act that I have struggled with for over fifty years. While I dearly loved each and every one, and would do the exact same things again, I will say that I should have taken more time for myself. It is sometimes a thankless task, but as they say, someone has to do it, and maybe someone will for us someday as well. God bless.

    • nina64 profile image

      nina64 6 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      I give a thumbs up to anyone who cares for the elderly or any other incompacitated individual who needs constant care. Being a caregiver is a demanding job. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Blessings to all who do this type of work.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 6 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      Thank you Jennifer, although my Mother has passed away, I am still caring for my Father.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 7 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      Carol, you have to stay on top of your mom's care. They have too may patients and not enough help. I understand that your sibs and you have to work, but perhaps each of you can take a day of the week to be a physical presence there, so that the staff realizes that you will be around.

      The quality of care should improve. Also, remember that the "home" is providing your family a service that they are well paid for and you can insist on better care. Good luck!

    • profile image 7 years ago

      My mother had a stroke and me and my siblings work full time. Mum is in a home and cared for, but i find that for the last 12 months she has spent all her time in bed, becuase she can not speak and is fed by a peg i am told that when she's asked if she wants to get up that she says no. I find that this is an easy way out of just leaving her in her bed. The last week i rung and instructed that she is taken out of bed and put in her chair. Amasingly some of the workers said that it was nice to see her in her chair and that they had not been informed to take her out of bed. I want someone to see mum twice a week on a regular basis and take her out even if its for a short outing for half an hour while were at work.Is that too much to ask for


    • thebluestar profile image

      Annette Donaldson 7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Great Hub. I am a community carer and know exactly where you are coming from. I love my work and often get far to involved in my old peoples lives, sometimes taking better care and consideration than their own family. Once a client dies, the time of mourning can be as long as if it was a parent of your own. After all spending as much as 6 hours daily with a client, 7 days a week you would have to have a brick for a heart to not get involved. The company I work for see all the carers as a means to an end, they never consider how much time and effort you put into making and keeping your clients well and happy. Sometimes to make the job worth while would only take a thank you from the office or family relations. Such a rewarding vocation in a thankless, cruel world.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 7 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      I'll check it out

    • profile image

      Carol Ende 7 years ago

      Help us grow the Eden Alternative in other organizations

      Vote for our $250,000 grant proposal "Refresh and transform 5 nursing homes." You can vote each day.

      Here is the link:

      Start spreading the news to your friends and family and have them vote for the Eden Alternative idea every day throughout November. They can now vote by mobile phone too using your unique text-to-vote code, available on our idea page.

      Voting ends the last day of this month so there's no time to lose.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      I would be glad to help you, let me know how to get in touch with you.

    • profile image

      ogunnami 8 years ago

      please help me with a topic on care and support for the elderly, i'm doing a research in west africa.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      Hang in there, I lost my mother 3 weeks ago, the day before Mother's Day and I miss her so much. Now it is just me and my Dad.

    • lbagwell profile image

      lbagwell 8 years ago

      I just started assisting my Dad about a year ago and it can be difficult. I have been looking to get a larger house so that he can move in with me. My Dad has Diabetes and is having more and more trouble with his legs. He is also Bipolar which is what scares me about moving him in with me. He can be very difficult to be around if his Bipolar disorder is out of whack. My biggest fear was if I move him in and then it doesn’t work, how do you move him out without feeling horrible? I like what you said about it being better for them and you, which is how I should look at it if it ever comes to that. Sometimes I think I worry too much about how others will view my care for my Dad.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      Fortunately, my parents are able to be home right now. Things are going well. I hope things get better for you.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 8 years ago from US

      I have been there took care of my Dad til his death then Mom almost ten years since and all my siblings wanted my Mom back in her home state near them so I finally gave in and now she is in a nursing home and my sister with second med POA has just washed her hands of the responsibility only living a mile from her and no one visits her and I have to keep up with her with Alzheimer's,by phone, living hours away, so nurses are my only contact, and they never have the same tale. It is so disheartening, I should never have let her go. I can't begin to say what it does to me, but I am sure you have an idea.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      Thank you for reading my hubs, I am glad that you liked them.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      you are nice person. Really care with other people, especially for elderly. I give my big appreciation for you. I want to be like you. And for now I still care to elderly. Love is the best for them.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      Thanks for reading, I will be reading both of your hubs, also.

    • starme77 profile image

      starme77 8 years ago

      Nice hub , I totally agree , caring for someone at home is stressfull, I take care of my mother in law with advanced altzheimers and have just returned to work after a year , it is going to be tough working full time and taking care of her , but , where there is a will there is a way , you should take a peak at some of my hubs I got a bunch of em on elderly care and nursing home abuse , take care :)

    • Google Gal profile image

      Google Gal 8 years ago

      glad to hear you care so much for the elderly , nice hub :) keep on writing

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      very true, it does. Thanks for reading.

    • Siotosh profile image

      Siotosh 8 years ago from London

      Great Hubpage, this one comes from the Heart

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      Thanks, Carol. It is something that you would have to experience to believe.

    • profile image

      carol wilson 8 years ago

      This is great. No one knows these feelings unless they themselves have gone through it. I have taken care of both my mother and father and it is very much an overwhelming job. I found these writings to be very interesting and just had to read it from the beginning to the end. Good job.


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