Elderly aunt's move boosts quality of life for the whole family
I am writing to see if you can help my elderly aunt. She always has lived alone. She worked until she had to retire when she was 74. She never married or had children. She helped my mother when I was young. She helped care for my grandparents when they were both dying. She always has been there for my family when they were in need.
I am worried because the last time I visited, I noticed she had hardly any food in her refrigerator. I offered to go to the store for her if she could not go due to her hip surgery. She seemed embarrassed and said she didn’t need much to eat. She is already so skinny and does not need to be skipping meals. I tried to insist and she finally admitted she did not have money for food. She emptied all her savings to pay for medical bills on three different surgeries.
I feel terrible for her. My mom is the only family she has left and she, too, has health problems and lives on a very strict, fixed budget. I try to help out my mom as much as I can, but I am a single mom also financially struggling in this economy. Can you please help my aunt?
-- Loving niece
I called the niece to get some more information on the situation. She did not seem to know much about the aunt’s financial problems because she said she was too embarrassed to ask for more information. She did tell me she had brought over a bag of food. She said she would meet me at the aunt’s apartment.
I met the niece in the parking lot of the elderly aunt’s apartment building. It was a two-story building and the niece told me her aunt lived on the second floor. When I asked how she was able to live on the second floor after her surgeries, the niece said her aunt had lived there for a very long time and was afraid to move. She said her aunt did not get out much and that is why she offered to shop for her. I told her that was very kind of her, knowing that the stairs would be a very painful obstacle for her aunt.
The niece knocked on the door and then let herself in. The aunt was sitting in the dark on her couch. I noticed how her face lit up when she saw it was her niece visiting.
She said to me, “You must be W.C. I have heard such wonderful things about The Time Is Now to Help.”
I told her I had heard some wonderful things about her as well.
“I hear you are a wonderful aunt who has done some very nice things for your family,” I told her.
She looked at her niece as she said, “That is because I love them and knew they needed my help.”
The niece then said, “Auntie, we love you, too, and want to help you now.”
With that, the aunt’s eyes filled with tears and she grasped her niece’s hand.
She said, “I feel so embarrassed to be in this position. All the years I helped my parents and my sister, I never thought I would need help myself one day. How could I have said no to my parents when they were suffering and could not care for themselves any longer? How could I not help my sister when she was a single mother raising her child on her own? If I had to do it over again, I would do it all the same.”
She then asked the niece if we could talk privately. The niece said she would come back in a few hours.
I sat down next to the aunt on the couch. We talked about her family for a while. Then I asked her questions about her financial problems. She told me how she had never saved enough because she had paid all her parents’ medical bills and household bills for all the years they were in her care. She also had helped her sister pay her bills.
I asked about her surgeries. She said she had hoped to continue working as long as she could but she already was past retirement age when she had her last surgery. She knew it would be a struggle to get by with only Social Security, but she could no longer put off the last surgery. She had hoped more of the expenses would have been covered by Medicare but was not surprised by the bills she had received. After working her whole life, she had no savings left.
She lived as frugally as possible and still could barely afford food, utilities and rent. I asked how her sister was getting by and she said she was struggling, too. I asked if the sister had room for her at her home. She said she had thought about it but was too embarrassed to ask her sister.
The aunt said she had lived in the same apartment for more than 40 years and did not know how she would move in her current condition. I assured her we would have some volunteers to help and that her niece also would help. I asked if she would mind if I talked to the niece about it and after much discussion, she agreed.
I called the niece to tell her to come back to talk with us. When I suggested that her mother and aunt live together, she said, “I think it’s a wonderful idea. I have been trying to get my aunt to move out of these old apartments ever since she started having her surgeries.”
We set up a time to talk to the sister and get her approval. I also wanted to check the sister’s housing situation.
After seeing the sister’s small but adequate one-story house, and after having a very positive conversation with the sister, everyone seemed very happy about the move. The two sisters could share expenses and be good company to one another. The niece could check on them regularly and offer assistance if necessary.
The Time Is Now to Help helped them with the move and with one month’s rent and utilities. This gave them enough funds to have a successful combined budget. We also referred them to the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Walworth County for further direction.
I went to visit the sisters after the move to see how they were getting along. I saw two completely different women. The aunt was much more mobile because she was now able to get out and walk daily without the strain of going up and down stairs. The women were much better financially and said they made an effort to cook a healthy dinner each night because they had each other to care for. The niece visited often to check on them and help with anything that was needed.
The women both thanked The Time Is Now to Help for not only our financial assistance, but also our assistance in improving their lives overall. They said they were much happier than they had been in years. Thank you and God bless all of you for making this possible.
Health and happiness, God bless everyone,
Please help: Make checks payable to The Time Is Now to Help, P.O. Box 70, Pell Lake, WI 53157. The Time Is Now to Help is a federally recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization licensed in Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax-deductible, itemized, thank-you receipt showing exactly what every penny of your donation provided for the poverty stricken.
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Mail: P.O. Box 70, Pell Lake, WI 53157.