Like many of my peers, I’ve become a caregiver by default. I’m the child living closest to my mom, 84-year-old Dorothy Erhart.
When she gave up driving more than a year ago, we turned to the Good Samaritan Society for assistance. Mom has always been an active, independent person who participates in a variety of church and service organizations.
Her caregiver, Heidi Ruegge, works for Good Samaritan Society – Services@Home. Heidi helps my mom continue to do the things she loves and the two have developed more than a working relationship.
“Dorothy and I just have that bond. It’s just there,” Heidi says. “You can’t change that. I don’t think that I can stop coming here. It would be very hard for me to quit this job and leave Dorothy. I just value her.”
Mom is among several clients Heidi serves. Her job gives her the time to learn more about the people in her care.
“To me, it’s like these people are my grandparents,” she says. “I couldn’t be there for my grandma. I don’t want these people to be alone.”
Heidi’s presence means my mom continues to make her own choices about how she lives her life.
“She makes it possible for me to live in this house,” Mom says. “I don’t want to go someplace and stay with a lot of other people. I want to stay here in my own house and she makes that possible for me.”
Mom also acknowledges that Heidi takes some of the burden off me. “This makes it possible for me to do what I want to do without taking up all your time and efforts,” she tells me.
And, I agree. There is a level of stress that comes with being your parent’s primary caregiver.
I felt an emotional weight lift when I knew we could rely on another person my mom trusts. Everything looked better when I knew I had someone else there, someone else watching and someone else who cares for my mom almost at the level that I do myself.
By Michelle Erpenbach
Good Samaritan Society