Caregiving for a Northern Michigan Neighbor
My family and I live in the northern Michigan community of West Branch in a neighborhood we’ve called home for more than 20 years. The woman that lives across the street from us is an 87 year old widow who lives alone. Her son lives north of Grayling which is about an hour away. Over the past few years I’ve helped her with everything from grocery shopping to transportation to her doctor’s appointments. It has reached the point where I am her full-time caregiver. She is dependent upon me for almost everything – laundry, bathing, dressing and more. I don’t mind helping her out but it has gotten to be too much. I have my own family to take care of and I work full-time. I’m feeling completely overwhelmed most days. What do you suggest I do?
Melissa in West Branch, Michigan
Caregiving really can be a full time job! It sounds like you’ve been a good neighbor and friend to her, but it may be that she has reached the point where she needs to consider a senior living community or at least private duty home care. I would start by calling her son to talk about the issue. Let him know what help (if any) you can continue to offer her and what else you know she needs. You might even want to give him the phone number of the Area Office on Aging. They can be a good resource for helping him develop an elder care plan for his mother. If you are able to, I would try to give him at least two weeks to figure things out before you stop providing support to her. It might take him time to figure out what his next steps will be and to make the necessary arrangements. I would make your timeline clear to him though so he feels the urgency to make plans and not procrastinate.
I hope this helps, Melissa! Please feel free to call one of The Brook Retirement Communities if we can provide you or your neighbor’s son with any information or answer any questions.