For nearly all his life, Evan LaPointe has considered Audrey Roberts to be like a grandmother. So when the 104-year-old woman outlived all her retirement savings, he jumped at the chance to help.
"The way I see it, she used to watch over me and take care of me, and now it's my turn to do that for her," LaPointe, of Bowling Green, Kentucky, told TODAY.
He met Roberts when he was only 3 years old, through a foster grandparents program, where Roberts was a volunteer.
"Whenever my parents wanted to get out or go out of town, I'd hang out with Audrey, and she would take care of me," LaPointe, 21, said. "She's like a grandma to me. So it's just like going over to grandma's house, going over there."
Now Roberts, who also outlived her husband and only child, is part of the family. LaPointe and his mother live about 10 minutes away and visit Roberts all the time, including every other Friday, to take her to a hair appointment.
"We used to have her over for Christmas and Thanksgiving, when she could get around better," LaPointe said. "But we still load up a plate for her and bring it over.”
But now Roberts faces a dilemma — she's outlived all her savings.
"Throughout her life, she worked minimum wage jobs and saved almost $200,000," LaPointe said. "That was her life savings. But she'll be 105 this year. She's running out of money."
Part of the problem is that LaPointe wants to stay home instead of relocating to a nursing home, and while she can get around on her own using a walker, she has severe arthritis and still requires 24-hour care.
"And the caretakers are awesome," LaPointe said. "They even called last week and took a pay cut, so they're doing what they can to help. Everybody is. But 24-hour care... It adds up."
He launched a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to keep Roberts in her house, which she bought decades ago for $5,000.
"She takes pride in that house," he said.
LaPointe, who works at his family's print shop and also as a photographer, said Roberts is one of his favorite subjects.
"I love taking photos of her," he said. "She's 104 but she looks better than a lot of people in their 70s or 80s! She's an incredible woman."
Roberts told TODAY she’s touched by LaPointe’s efforts: “I think it’s wonderful,” she said.
“He’s like my grandson,” Roberts added. “He’s always been with me. He’s a great guy.”
Roberts’ doctor also testifies that she does better at home.
"A couple of years ago, she broke her hip,” Dr. Sherryl Reed, MD, said in a video posted on the GoFundMe page. “She had to go to rehab and we thought for sure at that point that she was going to have to stay in the nursing home for the rest of her life. But she deteriorated so much at the nursing home that finally friends made it possible for her to come back into her home, and since that time she’s done just beautifully.”
“Going back to some kind of assisted living or nursing home facility would mentally be terrible for her,” Dr. Reed added. “So she needs to stay in her home.”
LaPointe is aiming to raise $100,000 for Roberts, which he says would cover around-the-clock care for a year, plus bills, medicine and food.
“We’re watching over her, and we’re taking care of her as much as we can, but we need some help, and we need to community to rally around us,” he said.
“It’s her last wish,” LaPointe added. “She wants to die in her home.”