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Caring for Family Members from a Distance

Rosemary’s son gives her a ride to the hospital on his way to work.  Rosemary inquires about Georgia’s room from the main volunteer desk at the hospital entrance.  A silver-haired, red vested volunteer named Bob, states that he will take Rosemary to Georgia’s room.  He offers Rosemary a wheelchair ride, as it is such a large hospital and he is worried about her getting tired.  Rosemary declines but thinks that Bob might need a wheelchair himself; Rosemary has to wait for him to catch up as he walks so slowly shuffling his feet.  While walking with Bob, Rosemary has time to notice how much he looks like Santa Clause with his white hair and red uniform.

Rosemary reaches Georgia’s room and finds her sleeping.  Rosemary sits on a hard, folding chair in the corner of Georgia’s room for 20 minutes listening the sounds of the hospital and smelling the interesting smells.  Georgia’s room is cramped with a bed in the middle that takes up most of the room, and a window that looks out onto the vertical concrete wall of the next wing.  Georgia looks relaxed and peaceful while sleeping, which makes Rosemary feel at ease because she did not know what to expect after seeing Georgia in the ER yesterday.  Georgia’s breakfast tray lay on the tray table untouched; Rosemary sneaks a peek to see what they are feeding Georgia and she finds chicken broth, tea and green Jell-O.  Not what Rosemary was expecting, but she rationalizes that Georgia may need light food after surgery.  Just before Rosemary sits down again, Georgia’s daughter Jillian arrives.  Jillian has just flown in from Savannah.

Jillian appears to be flustered and is obviously distraught that her mother is in the hospital.  Jillian’s loud voice wakes Georgia from her sleep.  Georgia is drowsy but recognizes both Jillian and Rosemary.  Rosemary offers to leave Jillian and her mother alone, but Georgia is looking tired, so Jillian quickly offers to buy Rosemary lunch at the hospital cafeteria.  Rosemary chooses a muffin for it’s simplicity, thrift, and speed.  Rosemary does not wish to stay long or order anything expensive since Jillian is buying her lunch.  During their meal, Jillian talks endlessly about her concerns regarding her mother living alone at home in her current condition.  Jillian breathlessly agonizes about her mother’s situation with tears in her eyes while pushing around her lunch on the plate.  Rosemary thinks that Georgia should be part of this conversation because it is her life after all, but she lets Jillian go on and on about Georgia living alone at home.  Jillian asks Rosemary what she should do about her mother.  Rosemary feels uncomfortable with this conversation and squirms in her seat a little, but is not sure that Jillian will give her an escape route.  Would her son be asking a perfect stranger to help decide where she should live if she could not care for herself?  She never considered this possibility and feels a little scared.  Jillian apologizes for putting Rosemary on the spot because she can see that Rosemary looks uncomfortable and has ceased talking.  Rosemary and Jillian walk back to Georgia’s room, all the while Rosemary is contemplating their conversation.

Caring for Senior Adults from a Distance

Family dynamics have changed over time resulting in adult children often living in different towns or even different countries than their parents.  With family members scattered, when seniors need care, the options for care may be more limited as well as much more complicated for families to organize.  When a situation occurs in which a parent or family member needs medical care or assistance at home, the following resources may help:

  1. National Alliance for Caregiving: http://www.caregiving.org

The National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition designed to increase awareness of family caregiving concerns.  The National Alliance for Caregiving provides written resources for family caregivers on how to care for their loved ones and care for themselves while in the caring role.

  1. Eldercare Locator: http://www.eldercare.gov

Eldercare Locator is a public service of the US Administration of Aging to find help find caregiving resources in your community.

  1. Children of Aging Parents: http://www.caps4caregivers.org

Children of Aging Parents began as a group of neighbors caring for their parents who found a scarcity of information and support within the caregiving community.  This website lists support groups by State, provides guides for caregivers, and helpful links.


Comments (2) • Posted May 16, 2011

Author: Julie L., BS, BSN, RN
Julie has worked as a Registered Nurse in the emergency room, as a clinical nursing instructor, and as a director of clinical services in home care.


  1. Julie,
    I see you’re continuing to post helpful, informative information about Rosemary, with great tips and resources on home healthcare. Keep up the great work!

    Comment by Cindy Lavoie — May 16, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

  2. Thank you for reading Cindy.

    Comment by julie — May 18, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

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