Senior Care: Family on time


Two women drinking coffee in the living room overlooking the Elbe. Mother and daughter could be her. "Look," says the younger and points out where a three-master is passing by. "Is that beautiful," rejoices the older. This look for ships is something that connects them. Having something in common is important to the two women. Because Hildegard Braun * - the older - and Marta Piotrowska live under one roof, but they have known each other for only a few months. Maybe the Germans and the Poles would never have met each other if Hildegard Braun did not need help. Now they form a kind of destiny community. This includes the daughter of Hildegard Braun, Merle, who lives in the neighborhood and stops by almost every day. For all three, it is important that the life together works. Merle Braun has given some of the care for her mother to the helper from Poland. The 88-year-old Hildegard Braun would have to go to a nursing home if she did not have the constant care. And Marta Piotrowska secures her existence with the salary for working at the Brauns.



The Hamburg native Hildegard Braun lives directly on the Elbe. Only one way and the beach separate her house from the river. Container ships from Central America or China, sailors and motor boats. Hildegard Braun enjoys this view every day, for hours. She can do this only because Marta Piotrowska is there and accompanies her every step of the way between the armchair, the kitchen table, the bed and the toilet. The 56-year-old also prepares the meals, she eats with the old lady, helps her with washing and dressing, creates order. She lives in the room that used to be Hildegard Braun's bedroom. Their bed is now in the living room. Because the 88-year-old is no longer allowed to climb stairs and must constantly be supported while walking.

Hildegard Braun has "great luck," as she says. Because the family has enough money for a helper from Poland. Because the two sons and the daughter live nearby, take care of their mother. Because she can continue to live at home. "I'm very grateful for that," she says.



She had an emergency button around her neck - which she kept squeezing.

Her daughter Merle Braun, in turn, is grateful that she can look forward to visiting her mother today. Because she does not have to come to help, but stop by for a coffee. And because she, her two daughters, and the brothers get along so well with the mother. She also knows other, distanced or even broken relationships between parents and their adult children. "Then the idea is bad to have to worry about someday," she says. "Fortunately, that was different for us."

One of Merle Braun's brothers had promised his father a long time ago to take care of the mother if left behind alone. The siblings joined in: Together they wanted to ensure that the mother could stay home even in old age. So everyone was inwardly prepared for "Day X", when the mother actually needed help. Eight years ago his father died - and since then it has been downhill with Hildegard Braun. She already had three strokes, a heart attack and a femoral neck fracture. And every time she lost a piece of her independence.



For the children it became more and more difficult to keep their promise. "She had an emergency button on her neck, which she sometimes pressed for an hour and a half," recalls Merle Braun. That meant frightening, worrying - and a broadcast: Who's going? Sometimes the mother needed escort for going to the toilet, sometimes she just wanted to entertain or cheer him up. "We all live nearby, but to stop working so often, to let everything go, that was hard to do." During this time, Merle Braun was with her mother every day to help - before or after her work in the real estate industry, in addition to caring for her own family. The brothers also came regularly, bought for the mother, drove her to the doctor. Imperceptibly, all three reached their limits, but no one wanted to admit it.

A typical situation, says the social scientist and author Herrad Schenk, who has written a number of nonfiction and novels on aging. When it becomes clear that old people need permanent help, this is a time of conflict in the family. "Emotional Clinch" is what the Herrad Schenk calls. She advises, if it is somehow financially possible, to seek professional care: "The more relaxed the relatives, the easier it is for them to take the old man as he is now."

The children of Hildegard Braun hesitated for a long time to give something of the daily care about their mother. Until two years ago: mother and children wanted to eat together.As the brother pulled up the mother in a wheelchair the steps, he fell and broke a vortex. All of a sudden it became clear to everyone: "It can not be done anymore."

What to do? Engage a nursing service around the clock? "Priceless," says Merle Braun. Into the home? Unthinkable for the siblings. "We wanted to create a liveable situation for everyone, and of course, make our mother want to stay home."

An agency arranged the domestic help from Poland

But Hildegard Braun has not seen her flat for months at this time: hospital, surgery, rehab, again to the hospital. "I wanted so much to be able to go home, I did not want to go to a nursing home, I wanted to go back to that look," says Hildegard Braun. Merle Braun learned about a friend from an agency that conveys Polish women domestic help to old people in Germany. Unlike usual, these women live in the house of the people they work for.

Women from Slovakia and other Eastern European countries also come to Germany as domestic help. In a few months, many earn the money for a renovation, for a special purchase or for the next semester at the university. And some then want to go back to their children, who live with the grandmother or with other relatives, as long as the mother is in Germany.

The Brauns have been "shift change" for five different reasons so far. Merle Braun was quite satisfied: "For my mother, it was always good that someone else came again after two to three months." This time, so her experience, is a kind of grace period, in which the roommates are particularly attentive to each other. Only then does it become apparent how well the two really fit together.

For Hildegard Braun, a lot of life has come to the house with the ever-changing helpers. And she learned a lot from them: asking for help, for example. "In the beginning it was hard for me, especially for the toilet, but in the meantime I have no inhibitions at all." She knows that women need time to get used to it, and she wants to make it as easy as possible for them: "I treat them all like my daughter, we always have a family atmosphere quickly." And every time one of them leaves, Hildegard Braun is sad at parting. It is easier for her to accept support from the helpers from Poland than from her daughter. Although she wants to have her children with her as often as possible. But when dressing or in the household she prefers to be helped by strangers.

An attitude that is increasingly gaining ground among the older generation, according to the experience of the expert Herrad Schenk: They especially wish emotional support from their adult children, not cleaning or care services. And it is also important for the elderly that they perceive and respect what they are - despite all their physical limitations - a seasoned person with a rich history.

This also applies to Hildegard Braun. The world she is connected to today by the river outside her window used to travel by herself. As a child, she lived with her parents in Namibia for some time. She has a lot to talk about, has a lot of thoughts and keeps up to date on economics and politics. She wants the women who live with her and help her to be equal partners.

She reminds me a lot of my grandma.

Marta Piotrowska first has to grow into this role. She speaks very good English, but still little German. That's why she is now intensively practicing language learning cassettes. "I want to learn German very quickly and well," she says. She wants to work in Germany as long as possible. At home she would not find a job that would bring her more than $ 100 a month - and no one in Poland can live without that. Her daughter is 22 and already married, "she does not need me anymore," says Marta Piotrowska.

She would like to stay with the Brauns. She likes the way Merle Braun and her siblings take care of their mother: "They come to visit a lot and stay here for a long time, and then they sit and hold their mother's hand and kiss her, almost as if they were small children again, this family has a heart. "

This also means Hildegard Braun. "I saw something good in her eyes, and she reminds me of my grandmother," says Marta Piotrowska. She feels responsible for "Hilde," as she calls her. Although she is entitled to two hours of free time during the day, she walks only a bit, rarely for more than 20 minutes. "I'm afraid Hilde might fall if I'm not there." When Hildegard Braun dozes in her chair or sleeps in the evening, Marta Piotrowska writes letters home, talking on the phone to her daughter. "For younger people, this life would be nothing, they would feel safe locked in. But I like that calm, that uniformity."

Merle Braun observes exactly how her mother is with Marta. The project "temporary family" can only succeed if things go well between the two. That seems to be the case, even beyond the first three months.Hildegard Braun wishes that Marta Piotrowska stays for a long time and speaks warmly about her: "When Marta takes me to the bathroom, I sometimes hug her and I get a kiss in the mornings and evenings."

Senior Care: Good to know

Anyone who wants to hire a helper from Eastern Europe, easily gets into the legal gray area. The market is confused and some mediation services advertised as "guaranteed legal" are not. Those who want to be sure, should contact the Central Foreign and Specialized Placement Service (ZAV) of the Federal Employment Agency. It arranges domestic helpers from Bulgaria, Slovenia, Poland, Romania, Hungary as well as the Czech and Slovak republics nationwide and without fees. In addition, the team advises on issues such as work permit, insurance, employment contract. ZAV, Tel. 02 28 / 713-14 14, E-Mail: [email protected]

Information also online at www.arbeitsagentur.deHome> Citizens> Work and occupation> Mediation> Household help.

Information and advice is also available from the Consumer Affairs Center of North Rhine-Westphalia: www.vz-nrw.de/pflegehilfen

Telephone advice on Tuesdays from 10 am to 12 pm at 0900/1/89 79 64 (1.86 Euro per minute from the German fixed network, mobile phone rates may vary)

For all mediated assistants applies: Although you live in the house, but have regular working hours (38.5 hours per week) and vacation. Their duties include housework and the kind of care that is possible without training and is also provided by caregivers. So for example help getting up and going to bed, while showering and hair washing and eating. Anyone who wants to employ a domestic help from Eastern Europe, including social security contributions with approximately 1600 euros per month. Costs for accommodation and meals can be charged to the assistant.

Read on

Herrad Schenk: "At the end", 166 pages, 8.95 euros, Kiepenheuer and Witsch A couple at the end of his life: He is paralyzed by a stroke, she wants to care for both without help. A touching novel about the struggle for dignity and autonomy.

Liselotte Vogel: "I still live self-determined!", 180 pages, 17.95 euros, torchbearer Experience report on the move to a senior citizen residence and the settling in there. With detailed advice part.

Caregiver Spotlight | Lisa M. - Senior Care Provider on Care.com (July 2020).



Nursing, Eastern Europe, Poland, Germany, Elbe, Ship, Central America, China, Nursing, Retirement Housing, Aging