Care and Giving: How not to be the Dorothy Zbornak or Carrie Hefferman when it comes to living with your older relatives

Whether you are a Carrie Spooner or a Dorothy Zbornak, someone has to care for our elderlies and disabled.

National Cancer Society

Several grown adults over 35 are dealing with the growing reality of having to give care for their aging relatives at home.

Joan Smith of Missouri, was 25 when her mother Sue died of cancer. But her dad had moved on with another woman in another state. Leaving her and her older siblings on their own without him as a support system.

At the time, Joan was pregnant with her second child Steven, after having Carolyn three years earlier. She felt so alone and strong indignation toward her father.

And then 30 years later, Joan was now a 5-time grandmother, and her father was over 70, and was struck with dementia. His dementia had gotten so bad, that his wife left him in a mental home.

Joan and her husband decided to bring him back home to Missouri. He really felt like a stranger to them, due to the stages of his memory loss.

He would do stupid things to embarrass her, like all of the sudden. He would remember her sneaking out late at night to sleep with her then high school boyfriend.

Joan knew he found out, but why in the heck would he bring it up now? He suppose to be senile.

Joan husband didn’t like how her dad would come off as mean and verbal abusive at his state. However, they were the ones who decided to care for him.

In Kings of Queen, you see the same exact execution by Arthur Spooner, played by the late-veteran actor Jerry Stiller. Spooner was a thorn in his daughter Carrie’s and her husband Doug side. Yet they still loved him and felt obligated to take him into their home.

In addition to having little or no assets, it was impossible to renege on a promise to bring Spooner into their home. Same with Joan, her stepmother wiped out all of his savings and then dumped him in a Memory Care Center.

Let’s talk about Sophia Petrillo’s syndrome as seen on the hit show The Golden Girls. Sophia was an old pro at getting what she wanted. Due to the fact she moved in with her spinster daughter Dorothy and her best friends Blanche and Rose.

The scenario here is a bit different, Dorothy, who was divorced and very single, had several chances to dump the old lady. As a result, she decided to allow her mother’s last days be spent with them in the palatial Miami living.

Whether you are a Carrie Spooner or a Dorothy Zbornak, someone has to care for our elderlies and disabled. And the best that they can get is being in the care of a familiar loved one even if their memory or health otherwise is failing.

As a care giver of non-family members and former CNA, I see and have seen the devastating effects of being alone in a nursing home. And no one to come visit you, so you just get sicker and eventually die.

How to make sure the ones you are caring for IN HOME, stays active and out of your personal affairs:

  1. Sign them up for senior adult care centers, these places operate 5 days a week. And they offer a lot of activities for them to do, while providing meals and a kind place of comfort.
  2. Stay current on their health and medication
  3. Keep in constant contact with their appointments
  4. Start preparing for End of the life decisions now, especially Power of Attorney, so that there won’t be any issues later
  5. Make sure you spend much quality time with them. If they are able, take them for long walks, to a new restaurant or even shopping.
  6. Allow them constant contact with the other members of the family. Most siblings do not get along, and isolate the elder parents from each other out of jealousy and spite.
  7. Give them a list of things to do around the house, especially the active over 70 or 80’s parents. An elderly person likes to feel needed. But keep in mind, they are over 70 and 80, so don;t push it.
  8. Assign an agency, a child or trusted person to watch over them when you need “me” time or a night out with your spouse or significant other. Because in The Golden Girls, it cramped Dorothy’s style always feeling sorry for Sophia, and allowing her to tag along on her dates.
  9. Let them cook their own meals, but make sure you monitor them of course. If memory serves them correctly, an elderly person like to feel needed and asked to do something on their on.
  10. Never spoil them, remember some of our elder parents minds are slipping back to the old days. So, they might act childish and petty. So, don;t give in, set ground rules and stick to them.


Percentage of adult children caring for parent?

At any point in time, few adult children are taking care of their parents. But, over the course of their lives, about 17 percent of adults end up providing care for their parents. And when children do care for par- ents, the commitment is large – 77 hours per month.

Do daughters take care of their parents more than sons?

Angelina Grigoryeva, a doctoral candidate in sociology, told Healthline that daughters provide elderly parents with an average of 12.3 hours of care per month. Sons give less than half that with only 5.6 hours.


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