AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local non-profit Family Eldercare offers guardians for the elderly, the disabled and others with no one else to turn to. KXAN is partnering with Family Eldercare as part of our yearly community service project and spent some time learning about how these guardians help people with managing paperwork and making big life decisions.
Guardian Kathy Seiter sees 35 clients, most of whom are on Medicaid. Seiter visits them at least once a month and explained that she takes time to do more than just going over paperwork and setting up appointments.
“I make all their decisions with them, make sure they have a place to live, food to eat, medical care, plan their funerals, keep everything going to make sure they have the best quality of life,” she said.
Seiter explained that after all this time with her clients, she becomes very close with them. She shared the example of one client, “Molly” (we can’t share the client’s real name for privacy reasons).
“She’s cognitively impaired, a lot of auditory hallucinations, things like that,” Seiter explained, adding that while her client is around 50 years old, cognitively she’s at the age of a young teenager.
Previously Molly lived in an apartment with her mother, but her mother’s death left her with no place to live. Shortly after, Molly was living in a hotel room off Interstate 35 with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend.
“Selling whatever they could to make payments, no one had a job,” Seiter explained.
That’s when Family Eldercare took over guardianship of Molly.
Molly was anxious about the change at first, she was moved to a home with several other women in Marble Falls. At this home, Molly and her housemates take turns doing chores and cooking. Seiter will come in to check on Molly, hosting pizza parties for all the housemates or taking Molly to go shopping for the things she needs.
Seiter also talks to Molly about the hearing loss she deals with, something Seiter understands. “I have a profound hearing loss, so not being able to hear is a personal thing for me because not being able to hear is so isolating for people,” Seiter said.
Seiter has been rallying to get Molly hearing aids for years. Though it’s been tough to find the thousands of dollars they’d need so far, Seiter is pushing to find a way.
Compared to years ago when Molly was living in a hotel, Seiter explained that her quality of life is much different. “She is thriving.”
Molly is in a bowling league, she has a boyfriend, she is on stable medications and has medical care. She has been able to attend dances, get new dentures, and make friends.
“I’m very proud of her, proud of how far she’s come,” Seiter said with a smile.