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Caregiving Roles: The Administrator

Keeping track of the little things is a big job for one caregiver

Changing Roles Caregiving, Smalls Family

Elias Williams

Her Aunt Terri has several medical conditions, including dementia, and that's why Lorri Smalls moved 700 miles to care for her.

In 2015, Lorri Smalls, 44, a writer and seller on eBay, moved from South Carolina — where she cared for her mother, who has since died from ovarian cancer — to New Jersey to live with her Aunt Terri, now 74. Her aunt has dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure and COPD, and lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a building for seniors

I try to do a little bit of everything: I help her stay up to date with her doctors’ visits and her medications. I keep her financial affairs in order and tie up loose ends as far as what bills are to be paid. I helped with drafting her will. I help with the groceries, run miscellaneous errands, and keep the household running smoothly. I try not to take over unless there’s a reason for me to do so, but she’s in the first stage of dementia so her memory’s not so good. Glitches keep occurring, and sometimes I have to backtrack and make sure that everything that should have been taken care of has been. 

"I try not to take over unless there’s a reason..."

— Lorri Smalls

My aunt can be left alone for periods of time. But she has a lot of health problems and she has scoliosis so I have to make sure she doesn’t fall when she’s walking. 

All I want to do is help her and I’m doing the best I can. But after two years, I’m starting to feel burned out. My aunt and I get along all right but at times it’s strained because it’s a small apartment and we’re together a lot. Knowing that I’m doing what I can to help her makes me feel good, but I’d like to have more work opportunities and more of a life of my own — so it’s been a bittersweet experience. Eventually, I'll be moving on, and hopefully she can be placed in a nursing facility to receive round-the-clock care.

— As told to Stacey Colino


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