Post Title: Help Comes in the Form of a Caregiver
At various stages of sight loss, the support an individual needs varies. Early on, when I still drove, I found it helpful to have a “flex schedule.” I worked for the government and start times staggered by fifteen minutes at three different times. We simply added on the fifteen or thirty minutes to the end of our workday. That enabled me to wait for more light to drive to work. My supervisor understood my situation.
When I traveled overseas, I had several options of public transport to choose from. Some took patience, but I always arrived where I needed to be.
As my sight loss progressed, I needed more support to accomplish everyday tasks. For example, I could weed but missed several pieces of that pesky riff-raff along the way.
Household tasks challenged me as well. My mother kept a meticulous house. She had always loved having everything in its place and kept up with it.
My sister-in-law supported her by doing the heavier cleaning every two weeks. That arrangement worked for us for more than a decade.
When my mother passed away in 2017, I took over the everyday tasks of running the house. But I knew it wasn’t at the same caliber as my mom would have done it. Thank goodness, my sister-in-law continued the heavier cleaning—vacuuming, dusting, moving furniture, doing problematic laundry, the bathrooms, the kitchen, and basement. We relied on her.
Through December 2020, my sister-in-law continued to clean every two weeks. But then her needs changed and she took on another job. The twice-monthly cleaning went down to once a month or, if for some reason, she couldn’t do that date, we had to wait until our day rolled around the following month. This became too long.
I had no idea where to start looking. I felt overwhelmed. A friend told me to start with local senior center agencies or cleaning companies like Merry Maids, or was it Molly Maids? Even that confused me. She found me enough numbers to help me start my search.
My search started there—somewhat affordable—but that came with a lengthy wait. The companies for senior helpers provided mostly caregiving but, did provide cleaning assistance as well. Our first cleaner came in mid-January.
We have several flights of stairs in our home, and I knew at the start, our stairs would do her in. The next month, the senior helper organization called to let me know the cleaner wouldn’t be back. The second woman was a no-show. The third simply showed up in the middle of my online teaching. So I casually introduced her as my “friend” but I had no idea who she really was. Could she be the new neighbor? A friend of my brothers? After my class finished, I had to ask her. Apparently, I missed a phone message the previous afternoon that stated the senior organization had found someone.
Aside from my initial confusion, that woman finished her job in one hour instead of four. She basically cleaned with a lick and a promise as my mom would say. She left the vacuum cleaner out and the cords in disarray. Cleaning utensils went missing, likely not returned to their places either. The last straw: she claimed four hours on her timesheet and I was charged for work she didn’t do. I called the organization and explained how the session went. They kindly charged me only for the hour she cleaned.
That phase of my search turned out to be frustrating but also looking back on it. humorous.
The search went on. I asked other vision-impaired people how they handled the situation. A couple of my low-vision friends said they had dedicated caregivers. Securing someone took a lot of time (that I didn’t have) as it had to go to local, state, and national channels. Besides, I learned since I had a retirement fund, I would have to liquidate that. After quite a long conversation on spending my life savings on home improvements, I realized I couldn’t do that. Using up my retirement fund would leave me vulnerable.
I continued to phone dozens of places. But everything fell through. In the aftermath of Covid, so many companies went under. No one had any idea who could help me with such a small budget.
Finally, I turned to Social Media to seek someone out. I felt like it was literally putting my dirty laundry out for everyone to see. But I really needed to find a good cleaner.
Yes! A young woman answered me and was willing to come down in price to my budget—the going rate. Although I could juggle our money, it would still leave my brother and me struggling each month, with me dipping more and more into my retirement fund to fill the gap. She also could only come an hour or two at a time or on weekends. Not an ideal situation but doable.
Then out-of-the-blue a few days later on another social media site, a woman posted her services, stating she was just “throwing it out there I’m available” Wow! She’d posted she also gardened! I called her immediately, and we set up a time to meet and see if she was a good fit for our needs.
She showed up at the appointed time and I liked her right off the bat. Her fee was 25% cheaper than the woman I had tentatively arranged to come the next day. So I hired her!
I contacted the other woman and told her I had found someone closer to home and who could work for longer periods.
God Answered my Prayer
Over the seven-month period, I had prayed over the situation. One of my life verses is: Philippians 4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
I trusted that verse so I knew God would meet my needs but I didn’t know how or when he would.
Waiting taxed my patience but God’s divine timing worked out perfectly.
The caregiver helped me finish the weeding so my brother could deliver the mulch and even trimmed several of the bushes. (That’s when I knew the Lord sent her). She also climbed a ladder and cleaned my gutters! Next, she thoroughly cleaned my mother’s house (downstairs). She also installed a steel rail in the bathtub for extra safety, which my brother wanted.
Transport is also more of an issue now—so she takes me to appointments. In the past, if my brother and I had overlapping appointments, I canceled mine. It is amazing that a caregiver really was what I needed, and not simply a cleaner.
I’m so grateful I didn’t need to liquidate my assets to find a caregiver. She is someone versatile and within my price range—as long as I limit the number of hours she works with me.
Who has God placed in your life to support you? Or are you perhaps blessing someone else with your support?Share in the comments below!
You have just read “Help Comes in the Form of a Caregiver” by Amy L. Bovaird. © July 13, 2021. All Rights Reserved.