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Short Stories About Caring For The Elderly

Updated on October 17, 2017
Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen has a Master’s degree in English Literature and is an author of stories and articles focusing on the dynamics of human relationships

Introduction

Ever-increasing longevity, combined with the wish by and for the elderly to remain in their own homes as long as is feasible, has become recognized and respected. However, the primary factor is the competent and compassionate support of caregivers. How if at all should these caregivers be rewarded?

In my first story of 730 words titled “Angel of Deception” raises the question as to whether the central interaction has a victim. Might it simply be two human beings bolstering one another through some of lives struggles?

In my second story of 540 words titled “The Garden Song” at some point, the human component can begin to pervade what began as a natural arrangement. A little girl sees her family disintegrate, seemingly during one evening.

Source

Short Story: Angel of Deception

Jenny is self- employed, running her own business as a home-caregiver. A would-be actress, she has nevertheless gained a contact base of acquaintances who trust and respect her. This has given her the opportunity to promote and sustain her business, elevating the traditional home-help into an upmarket service for a few well-off aged clients.

Jenny opens the file-folder of client ‘Clayton’.

She writes up attendance notes about each of her clients after every visit. These include as much personal information as she can glean in her friendly way; including names of relatives, past, and present, careers, relationships, likes, dislikes, triumphs and struggles.

By this means, she ensures she is able to talk to her clients about their lives and memories, while always keeping her own in abeyance. In time, she becomes so close to her clients that they freely confide, cry, laugh and love her. In effect she becomes their seraphic visitor.

She treasures all her clients, loves caring for them, delights in doing that one extra task which might make each feel valued. Now, reflecting on all she has managed to learn and record about Mr. Clayton, she flips up a mirror and begins applying her makeup. She is meticulous with her turnout, not only face hair and nails, but also her crisp freshly laundered and ironed uniform.

Her scan through the Clayton file reveals a total of 56 visits during the last year; hence his selection for action. Thus, Jenny feels sure that client Clayton is eager to find some means of profound fulfillment. He is 98 years old and she cherishes him; indulging him in this need, at his time of life, seems the least she can offer.

Today, her makeup is intended to create an illusion. Instead of enhancing her happy demeanor, she applies clots of mascara to her eyelashes, gel to the eyelids, and dark rouge beneath. She does not brush or bun her hair or apply lipstick. As a final touch, she applies hair conditioner to her cheeks and around her mouth; this will cause the skin to relax and sag. She now looks tired, miserable, and tearful.

Source

It is Time For Her to go Forth to Begin Her Angelic Labors.

Arriving at Clayton's home, she lets herself in, sings her “Morning Mr Clayton, lovely day” except today she lowers the tone of her voice. Her first job is to prepare his favorite coffee, served with fresh cream horns. This brings her close enough to his failing eyes for him to see her wretched appearance.

She goes about her chores, dusting, tidying, sorting the mail, emptying the trash, filling the dishwasher, bedding and blankets etc. However there is that overall ingredient she excludes; that being Clayton’s deepest need; talking with his Angel Jenny.

Clayton inevitably becomes distraught; he has been shocked by her appearance, and instinctively knows that Jenny is distressed. This is his opportunity to give support, advice, sympathy whatever, and he calls out to Jenny to sit with him.

“Oh, Jenny, my dear, I can see you're upset, please tell me your troubles, I want to help”.

Jenny explains that she would never want to burden such a lovely man with her troubles, but Clayton probes gently.

Tear of the Angel Child
Tear of the Angel Child | Source

She begins to cry, as would an angel child and rubbing her eyes, tells Clayton her partner has walked out on her after racking up debts on their joint credit card. She knew nothing of his spending, but now believes it was sparked by an affair with another woman. The credit company is now requiring immediate settlement of the balance. She has closed the card, but does not have the means to pay the balance, other than to borrow.

Clayton insists on dealing with the problem; he contacts his bank and transfers to her enough money to cover the debt.

A Lovely Day

This has been a lovely day for Clayton. He is thankful that life continues, and his heart is warmed. He has been able to help the most cherished person in his life.

This has been a lovely day for Jenny. She has brought true happiness into the life of a lonely old man.

Arriving home, she updates the Clayton file, and flags it for further action in six months’ time.

End

Source

Short Story: The Garden Song

Seeing them walk up the path towards our house, I was reminded of warriors. Still, I chided myself; that was silly. These “enemies” were my aunties, my uncles. We always enjoyed every holiday at one another’s homes.

Uncle Duncan and Auntie Adele were my favorites. Uncle Duncan would hoist me up close to his chest, then bounce me up and down until I said “Hello, Unky Dunky”

Aunt Adele, born in France, wore a rich, soft perfume. As a treat, she would pour a drop on my finger, then urge me to smooth it behind my ears.

Then there was Uncle Owen and Auntie Glad. He was small and pale, saying little. In contrast, Auntie Glad seldom stopped talking.

Each of them was nice in their way, so why should I feel uneasy? Still, I hid behind the coat-rack, praying no-one would notice. First, I heard Mum open the door, then a few quiet greetings. Chairs were drawn out from the dining-room table. Then, I heard what sounded like Mum bringing out a teapot and plates.

“Help yourselves to tea and scones.” She said.

After a few strained pleasantries, Uncle Duncan said, “Brenda, this should be straightforward. As there are three families, once you have sold Mother’s house, we can divide the proceeds three ways.”

There was a silence. Then my Mum said, “We”, Duncan, “We”? Did “We” leave school at sixteen to look after “Our” Mother after her stroke? Did that same “We” stay here in this house in order to do what was needed, which by that time meant everything? Now, am I meant, with my husband and little girl, to sell what has become our home, then find some flat? Is that what “You“ are suggesting?”

Then Mum, seeing me in my hiding-place, said, “Go upstairs to bed, Angel.”

I did. Still, how could I think of sleeping, hearing raised voices from the front-room? I knew Grandma’s death had brought this about.

I missed her, remembering mornings when, before Mum and Dad were awake, I would run down to the kitchen to find Grandma wrapped in her dressing-gown, making tea. Although her every movement was slow, she would make tea for us both.

After a few sips, I would ask, “Can we sing ‘The Garden Song?”

“Yes; you start, since you know nearly all of its words now.”

And we would sing …. ...

A Few Weeks Later

Somehow my uncles and aunties had been transformed into enemies.

An agreement was made. We were allowed to stay in our house, but Mum and Dad had to pay my Uncles an agreed amount arranged by someone called a solicitor. After that there were no further visits, although we all lived within a few blocks of each other. In time, even memories became vague.

Then, one night, I tried to recall the words of the song grandma and I sang together. Still, although the melody came to mind, I found I could remember only the first four lines of what I had once called “The Garden song”.

'In the Garden' by C Austin Miles
'In the Garden' by C Austin Miles | Source

There is no harvest for the heart alone; the seed of love must be, eternally, resown.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

© 2017 Colleen Swan

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    • Colleen Swan profile image
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      Colleen Swan 4 weeks ago from County Durham

      Thank you Paula, will be in touch soon.

    • Colleen Swan profile image
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      Colleen Swan 4 weeks ago from County Durham

      Hi Larry, good to know you are still active. Thank you for reading this and am glad you enjoyed. Colleen

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 4 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      Long time no see.

      Great read!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Anytime, Colleen, I'd be happy to exchange. You can email UR email address via our HP email connection as I will do the same. P

    • Colleen Swan profile image
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      Colleen Swan 4 weeks ago from County Durham

      Hi Paula, I am saddened but interested in your knowing about similar lacks of appreciation. I have thought for some while that you and I have a similar way of thinking. I wonder if you would like, on occasion to exchange individual emails. Warm regards Colleen

    • Colleen Swan profile image
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      Colleen Swan 4 weeks ago from County Durham

      Hi Venkat, thank you for your insightful thoughts. I was hoping to convey the idea of giving and taking as often interwoven. I like to think the pivotal sentence is the one indicating the elderly man has experienced joy. Giving is often as fulfilling as taking; one does not always exclude the other. Colleen

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Colleen...I am further disturbed to know the 2nd story is a personal one for you. Clearly, most of us have heard of these situations or even been a victim.

      Several years back, a very dear friend of mine, who of 3 siblings, was the ever-faithful, constantly vigilant adult child to their father, was treated most cruelly & unfairly in the end by a brother who was left "in charge" of everything. To this day, it upsets me on her behalf that she had to go through such egregious treatment, especially during a time of grief.

      There are times I am ashamed of our fellow humans. Peace to you, Paula

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 4 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting stories portraying the real-life happenings around us.

      The first story is somewhat more appealing. The caretaker took money with deception from the old man. But, I may not feel much worried at such incident as it gave the old man much happiness and a sense of satisfaction.

      The second story incidents are more common all over the world. Siblings fighting for money and separation and hating each other have become the everyday life of present society.

    • Colleen Swan profile image
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      Colleen Swan 4 weeks ago from County Durham

      Hi Ann, I believe issues regarding carers are likely to increase due to longevity and isolation. Even with good intentions, ghastly mistakes can be made. My mother is in an excellent care home, but one night a nurse brought in a needle. When my mum asked the reason, the nurse replied, it was for her diabetes. My mum has never had diabetes. Fortunately her mind is still keen, but I could not help thinking about those with dementia. I believe these human errors are often covered up. As to the second story, based on an actual incident. I hoped to focus on the fact that while care is in short supply, money brings out predators. Colleen

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      You strike a good contrast with your stories. Sadly many are conned or abused by carers. My mother was in wardened accommodation not far from my house. She was fine until she'd had a particular carer for a while. I noticed the carer was slowly taking over, especially with regard to getting her pension. I'm sure she was stealing but didn't have time to prove it before I realised Mum was scared of this person. I visited most days & the carer told me one day she'd taken over the medication that 'the daughter' used to do. She seemed shocked when I said I was the daughter!

      I phoned the agency and told them I didn't want that woman near my mother ever again. I told them she was scared but I couldn't prove anything. Goodness knows what happened with some of her charges who didn't have family around.

      The second story happens all too often I think. Others are keen to get their 'cut' but aren't prepared to recompense those who've done all the caring.

      It's important to bring these situations to others' attention and to make us think.

      Good to read your work again. I have a few to catch up on!

      Hope you're well.

      Ann

    • Colleen Swan profile image
      Author

      Colleen Swan 4 weeks ago from County Durham

      Hi Paula, thank you for yet another thorough reading. Yes, money certainly does bring out the vulture in people with that tendency. The second story is based on my grandmother's history in that she took care of her mother for twelve years with no help from anyone, but then, they appeared. Colleen

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Colleen. OK, my friend, you've surely caught me by surprise. These fascinating tales of the oft too present lapse in humanity, while seeming caretakers plot to "take," have lead your readers to unfortunate realities.

      I would venture to say we have each been privy to such situations that expose this darker side of human behavior.

      The question arises as to how and when such greed replaces love.

      Excellently presented ugly truths that expose the flaws within....two short stories of long-practiced deception.