Trying to Clone my Exhausted Self again: Hiring a social visitor for Mom

I’m exhausted.   Raw.   Completely overwhelmed with no sensible reason that I can pinpoint.

I spent the last week trying to get it together, trying to pretend I wasn’t losing my mind and unraveling emotionally, and barely holding together my days.  I kept trying to find a logical reason why, after all these years (seven!) of doing some form of caregiving for Mom, now that things are more or less stable, that I’d be having a breakdown.

But sometimes there’s no logic.  Something is going on with me and shifting, and I can’t deny it anymore.  My heart feels like it’s breaking open and every visit to Mom, including the long drive there and back home, is emotionally excruciating.  I’ve been feeling like I can’t do this anymore, though to give up is not what I want.

I’ll be traveling a bunch during the next couple months and I think I’ve been feeling guilty and scared to leave Mom without anyone to check up on her care.

I finally got some sleep, and then remembered to seek consolation from my favorite author to turn to when I’m sure everything is going down the drain.


Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun who writes in a humorous, liberating, down to earth way about what to do when you hit the wall completely and feel there’s nowhere to turn.

No matter how bad things have ever seemed, so far her words can always lift me to a new perspective where I can take a few breaths, reframe, and take the next step.


Photo Credit: Robin Holland

I own a handful of her books.  Last night the one I opened up was, “The Wisdom of No Escape”.  It was perfect for the situation I’m finding myself in right now.  After reading a couple chapters I knew what I wanted to try again.  I turned to Craigslist. Here’s the ad I posted:

Seeking Social Visitor for Senior with Dementia

Date: 2012-06-11, 9:47AM CDT
Reply to:


I’m seeking a kind, patient, interesting, fun person to visit my mother for about an hour per day on the days when I cannot, in the afternoon or early evening. Days are flexible – I can work with your schedule, but I tend to need more help on weekends. Young people, seniors, and people of all ethnicities/races are welcome to apply, but my mother usually prefers females, due to her feelings of vulnerability, although if you’re a younger man with great social skills and experience in this field, she might be convinced otherwise.

You must be very comfortable around people with dementia (my mom’s is mild – she can hold a conversation that usually makes sense). She lives in Memory Care and gets really bored, so I like to get her out in the sunshine for fresh air and to see the flowers, which she loves.

It’d be great if you have some background and personal experience with caring for the elderly, but not necessary. The staff takes care of anything she may need regarding personal care or mobility, and they will help you move her wheelchair outside if it’s too heavy for you. She just needs some verbal stimulation and a fresh, smiling face to give her some attention once in a while! She’s a smart, creative lady underneath her disability, so she prefers being around people who have a lot of interests, can talk about anything, and are open-minded. Her favorite people are often gardeners, artists, musicians, or any creative types who love life and nature.

Her favorite visits often involve heading out to the inner courtyard to see the flowers, chatting, and eating some olives or cheese or fruit, or scones and coffee- her favorite snacks. I’ll reimburse for any foods you bring and share.

The first dates I’m looking for visits to her are the weekend of June 22, June 25th, and the weekend of June 30th.

Payment is flexible depending on your experience and requirements. Please let me know the hourly wage you would suggest when you email.

**You must have a crystal clean background check and 2-3 wonderful character references**

So that’s my small step for today.  Hopefully I’ll find a lovely person like I did last time, and Mom won’t “fire” her again.  I know many people wouldn’t mess around with Craigslist and would go straight to a professional agency, but I’m paying this out of my own pocket since it’s to support me, and I can’t afford their fees.  I also like paying people what they’re worth, and this way the visitor gets to keep every penny.
This avenue is not without its headaches, but the fact that Mom’s inside a protected residence makes it a little easier to feel reassured about doing the hiring on my own.  We shall see how this works out…..
This entry was posted in caregiver stress, support, and respite, dementia, memory care and residential options and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Trying to Clone my Exhausted Self again: Hiring a social visitor for Mom

  1. Laura says:

    Excellent idea and job description. Hope you get a great response from just the right soul . . .

  2. Dear Meg,
    We are just so alike….out of balance, turn to books for wisdom, seek a concrete solution and keep on working on the inner stuff. I do hope you will find someone to spell you and bring some pleasure to your mom.

    I’ve been puzzled, like you, at my emotions lately. Nothing has changed for the worse with my mom, but something has changed in me and I am irritable and impatient and sometimes angry (which is a rare emotion for me). Trying not to let on to Mom, of course, but I am sure it comes out in my tone of voice now and then. I shall now be pulling out the Pema Chodron book (I haven’t really delved into it yet) and looking for that very chapter you mentioned. The title alone speaks to my current thoughts. And I am figuring things out for myself in other ways, too….herbal infusions, tweaking daily rhythms with mom, friends, ice cream. : )

    My emotions lately are easier than the deep sadness that I’ve felt at other times, so I am feeling much sympathy for you. That raw place is a very hard place to be.

    You are not traveling Virginia-way, are you?

    Wishing you lots of nurturing and some peace,


  3. Megan says:

    Thanks Laura and Lesley. I got a lot of responses from the ad already, among those only one email that felt right in my gut, so I’m going to try to meet up with her tomorrow.

    Lesley, I wish I were heading your way. I’d be great to meet up with you. It’s so gorgeous in Virginia, and unlike many, I adore the heat. Sweltering in the shade is okay by me as long as there’s a little breeze and some cool tea.

    I hear you on the herbal infusions. They’re holding me up too. We should compare ingredients sometime. 🙂 I ran out of oatstraw, so lately I’ve been big on home-harvested/dried raspberry leaf/nettle infusion. I harvested lemon balm and agrimony this morning, which is drying upstairs. And wild rose and lavender flowers are drying from the harvest last week – for smelling or who knows what I’ll end up doing with those, but they’re a feast for the eyes and nose at the moment.

    Thanks for connecting.

  4. kazumi says:

    Hi, I’m new here. I just stop by. I think it is important you make sure to take care of yourself so that you can take care one you love. So, don’t feel guilty. But, I think you do because you have such giving spirit!!!

  5. momsbrain says:

    I have started meditating in a weekly community session, and am trying to embrace a more Buddhist approach to life. That may be an author I should check out! Best of luck in finding a visitor for your mom. I think the description has potential to attract just the right kind of person. I remember when things were settling down with regard to Mom, I was still completely wound up. My therapist at the time suggested it might be compassion fatigue, and an inability for the body to relax after prolonged stress. Made sense to me… Take care, Emily

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s