How do I do this without hurting anyone?

  1. I work part time in homecare. I took on a case about a mile from my house. I love this little elderly lady. She has become very dependent on me. She takes my heart away. But at the same time...she calls me nearly every day. Most of the time it's things that she needs to call her MD for. She has very little help at home.

    Her family members tell me that a lot of the times, she doesn't let them help her. They also say that she is getting around better than she puts on. Without being judgemental, I can only assess what I see and what she tells me.

    She asks me to take her to the doctor's offices and get her meds for her. That is way above and beyond what my agency is wanting me to do. I volunteer to do this from time to time. Now she wants me to be the only one to do it and she says that she doesn't want any other nurse out there to help her. She only wants me. I have explained to her on numerous occasions that there will be times that I can't always be the one to help her. She said she will send the other nurses away.

    She had someone helping her to the doctor's office appointments, but when I started helping her out, she told the other person to get lost. I told her to call her back and ask her to help her when I can't. She refused.

    In January, I have to move in with my dad part time to help him recover from his surgery. I will be returning to school as well to finish my BSN....I will still be working full time at that hospital. I have to tell her that I can't come out other than when the agency sends me which is only once a week. She relies on me more than that.

    How do I tell her? What would you say? My agency said that they would take me off the case for 3 weeks if I needed to break away and she resisted. What do you think?
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   Virgo_RN
    I think this lady has an unhealthy dependence on you. While it might be flattering that she thinks so highly of you, you are doing her no favors by allowing this to continue.
  4. by   nurz2be
    I feel for the both of you. If it were me, I would talk to the service you work for and see if you can get someone to go with, like the person who will take your place while you are away. Tell her that you are going to train someone to take care of her the way you would do it. Explain to her family what is happening and that it isn't personal. You just have to care for your family and yourself. I would tell her I wasn't abandoning her, I would call in and check with the new nurse to see how she is doing. Maybe drop her a card every now and then to let her know you are still around and that you care. Personally, I can't work with the elderly, they hurt my heart too much. I can handle LOTS of things, but those little old ladies and men, even the ones with the nasties towards me, have a soft spot in my heart. I TOTALLY understand. Above all, be honest with her about what is happening. Old don't mean stupid, they are whipper snappers when they need to be. She might be upset at first but she will understand in time. GOOD LUCK
  5. by   SuesquatchRN
    You are also permitting yourself to be manipulated.
  6. by   gonzo1
    One of my aunts did this to her home health nurse. Had her shopping for her and picking up her drugs from the pharmacy. I finally told her that the nurse was not her personal servant. This nurse was too kind hearted to say no to my aunt and my aunt used and used him. And she could have done all this herself.
    I believe this pt is rolling up all her problems and worries about her health and her life and manifesting this in her ultimate control over you. You may be the only person in her life that will not say no to her and this is giving her a feeling of control over her life.
    I hope you can find the strength to disconnect because situations like this tend to be unhealthy for both people involved.
    You will not be able to solve her problems and fix her life no matter how much you try, and this will leave you with a feeling of frustration and sadness.
    Situations like this is one reason I don't like home health or even floor nursing, it is so hard to keep boundaries intact and perspective. The ER is nice because the people come in and go out so quickly that you can't really get sucked into situations like this.
    Good luck and God bless.
  7. by   leslie :-D
    w/all due respect, i can't help but think you have crossed professional boundaries.
    it's one thing to feel affection towards a patient.
    it's quite another, to partake in a relationship that is counterintuitive to healthy independence.
    you really need to have a 1:1 talk with her and draw the line.
    patients often sensationalize the qualities of their favorite nurse, doctor.
    but for a nurse to reciprocate by enabling this behavior, is not helping anyone.
    you really need to set some boundaries.

    wishing you only the best.

    leslie
  8. by   nservice
    I don't know about your agency, but many agencies have rules against transporting patients. You and the agency could be held liable if there were an accident.
  9. by   Midwest4me
    I see boundary issues here. As another nurse posted, she does indeed have an unhealthy dependence on you and is manipulating you. You need to have a sit-down honest talk with her and explain that you just can't be the sole provider and will soon be having other personal obligations that will prevent the kind of contact that she's become accustomed to. I really suggest that you take the 3-week break that the agency is offering you. Better yet, ask to be taken off the case permanently.
  10. by   pagandeva2000
    You may wind up resenting this person if she continues to intrude on your emotions, time and life. I would move on. I have had to do this in my own home case I had last year this time, and I do not regret it.
  11. by   Blee O'Myacin
    Quote from HappyJaxRN
    I work part time in homecare. I took on a case about a mile from my house. I love this little elderly lady. She has become very dependent on me. She takes my heart away. But at the same time...she calls me nearly every day. Most of the time it's things that she needs to call her MD for. She has very little help at home.

    Her family members tell me that a lot of the times, she doesn't let them help her. They also say that she is getting around better than she puts on. Without being judgemental, I can only assess what I see and what she tells me.

    She asks me to take her to the doctor's offices and get her meds for her. That is way above and beyond what my agency is wanting me to do. I volunteer to do this from time to time. Now she wants me to be the only one to do it and she says that she doesn't want any other nurse out there to help her. She only wants me. I have explained to her on numerous occasions that there will be times that I can't always be the one to help her. She said she will send the other nurses away.

    She had someone helping her to the doctor's office appointments, but when I started helping her out, she told the other person to get lost. I told her to call her back and ask her to help her when I can't. She refused.

    In January, I have to move in with my dad part time to help him recover from his surgery. I will be returning to school as well to finish my BSN....I will still be working full time at that hospital. I have to tell her that I can't come out other than when the agency sends me which is only once a week. She relies on me more than that.

    How do I tell her? What would you say? My agency said that they

    would take me off the case for 3 weeks if I needed to break away and she resisted. What do you think?


    I am by no means coldhearted, but I think you should run away - as fast as you can - from this situation. Your professional standing depends on it. Even elderly folks can be manipulative, borderline personalities. Sounds like this "sweet little lady" is doing a real number on you. It's not like she doesn't have family to help her. And if she's looking for a paid companion, I'm sure there are services that will provide that too. Eventually she's going to ask you to throw in a load of laundry or run the vaccuum. Either talk to her or don't - I just think you need to be removed from this case. Things like this tend to come back to bite you. Since you say that the lady resisted the option of you taking a 3 week break, it sounds like she has already been spoken to. I'd run in the other direction - quickly.

    ((Hugs)) - I know that you are trying to do the right thing here.

    Blee (who knows that the LOLs who come into the ER don't like her much because they don't get babied)
  12. by   Jo Dirt
    I've had elderly pt.'s in home health who crave attention and would play for my sympathy. I would humor them a little bit but it would get old with me pretty quick and when they realized I wouldn't be their...whatever it was they were wanting me to be, they would move on looking for the next sucker.

    Some of these little old people can be really manipulative, just like children.
  13. by   HappyJaxRN
    Quote from earle58
    w/all due respect, i can't help but think you have crossed professional boundaries.
    it's one thing to feel affection towards a patient.
    it's quite another, to partake in a relationship that is counterintuitive to healthy independence.
    you really need to have a 1:1 talk with her and draw the line.
    patients often sensationalize the qualities of their favorite nurse, doctor.
    but for a nurse to reciprocate by enabling this behavior, is not helping anyone.
    you really need to set some boundaries.

    wishing you only the best.

    leslie
    Ya know...I agree with everyone's statements, but you're exactly right.
  14. by   HappyJaxRN
    Quote from pagandeva2000
    You may wind up resenting this person if she continues to intrude on your emotions, time and life. I would move on. I have had to do this in my own home case I had last year this time, and I do not regret it.

    Yup. You are sooooo right! Because I'm doing that now.

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