Caring for the Elderly

August 28, 2013 Updated Aug 28, 2013 at 10:03 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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August 28, 2013 Updated Aug 28, 2013 at 10:03 AM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - Sylvia Grendisa is from a long line of caregivers.

“My parents became care givers at the age of 25 with her brother. He was mentally retarded and they kept him home for 60 more years,” Grendisa said.

Sylvia then took over caring for her parents until they passed away a few years ago. They were in their 90's. That is when she decided to use her compassion and experience to give back to the community. She joined the American Red Cross “Ombudsman” Program. Ombudsman is a Swedish word for “one who cares for another”.

“It is a resident advocacy program for folks who live in long term care facilities. Our role is to provide advocacy services and support for those who don't have visitors,” Red Cross Ombudsman Program Advisor Melanie Keem said.

Grendisa said the residents could count on her to address any problems they may be having with the facility, their medication, just about anything. She has also become a friend to many of them.

“Many of them they are very quiet. The elderly generation is afraid to stir up the pot and people will point fingers. I’m that neutral party and they know they can tell me anything,” Grendisa said.

Grendisa encourages others to get involved. She says this program benefits everyone involved.

“Such an enriching experience. There is nothing you can tell someone unless you experience walking into the facility and see people smile at you when you come by,” Grendisa said.