Prepare to Care
Like many folks here in Lincoln County, I have experienced the unexpected career change of becoming a caregiver for my Loved One. I had a wonderful career that I loved at FACETS Gem & Mineral Gallery for over 26 years. I would not have given up my career so willingly, if it hadn’t been for the cruel diagnosis of dementia for my Loved One.
She was a very articulate and successful business woman. I was originally in denial for the ﬁrst couple of years. First was her demand to move to the lower level, because her furniture was too heavy for an upstairs apartment. Next came inappropriate comments about others in public. The ﬁnal straw was was when she no longer would would put her sister on hold when I phoned her, which led to MY discomfort of having to get in the car and check on her.
I moved her into our home. Eventually the test conﬁrmed a diagnosis of dementia.
Early on, the Newport Public Library’s adult coloring group enabled her to enjoy the company of others for an hour or so, while I enjoyed a break at the library. I immediately started looking for knowledge to better understand how to deal with this disease.
The service of OregonCarePartners.com came to Newport, so that occupational caregivers could update their training. The public was invited to attend these classes as well, for free.
Nannette Bengel, Case Manager for Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments, has been so instrumental in leading classes for the Dementia Support Group, here in Newport. There are some of us who have stayed on after losing our Loved Ones; that way, we may help others through this ﬁre.
The Savvy Caregivers Class and Powerful Tools for Caregivers Class are starting up again this year.
Education is the key to surviving this crisis in our lives. Jan Molnar Fitzgerald, the Executive Director of the North End Senior Solutions (NESS), oﬀers a couple of days a week for the safety, comfort and well-being of our physically challenged seniors in Lincoln City. I was thankful to have my Loved one attend the NESS club, while I enjoyed some time for myself attending a class at the Sitka Center.
Peggy O’Callaghan, director of the Newport 60+ Activity Center, has periodically scheduled classes that are extremely important for our aging community to experience. My hope is that more people will make the eﬀort to participate.
The Samaritan Educational Wing presented training for Hospice on Death and Dying, of which the general public was invited to attend. It made the end of my Loved One’s life much easier, as I had the education to realize what my loved one was going through in her last ninety days of life. I knew when I needed to ask the doctor to bring in Hospice for comfort care, which is totally covered by Medicare. Death is a natural progression and no one in his/her right mind would want to deny a loved one the peace and comfort of Hospice. Unfortunately, those who do not understand the end of life, don’t have the luxury of knowing when to bring in Hospice; it comes too late to be a comfortable transition for many.
All of these activities/classes were posted here in the News Times and yet very few attended these FREE educational opportunities.
When I realized that I could no longer keep her safe at home, due to her “sun downers” (wandering oﬀ) I was fortunate to have already visited the care facilities throughout Lincoln and Benton Counties to know what they were like and their pricing. My Loved one lived out her last 21 months in the loving care of Graceland Care Homes (they are not a memory care facility) here in Newport just one mile from our home, which made it possible to see her daily. Many thanks to Kath Schonau of Aging Wisely with Heartfelt Hands and to all of the above parties who helped us to deal with all of this daily.
Long term care insurance is another education in itself. Long-term care insurance covers care generally not covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. Will your long term care insurance convert from at-home care for your loved one (allowing you to have time oﬀ) and will you be able to convert your loved one’s care to a nursing home later with that same insurance? Will it pay for foster care, or will you still be paying the monthly premiums to get the insurance to pay? Having paid in $46,000+ for this insurance over the last 19 years with the insurance paying out $26,800 (with only 2 ½ months left of her coverage) at $80.00 a day, does not cover much. I would suggest to start saving NOW for your care.
Now, even the soap operas are dealing with the Alzheimer’s disease story line of learning how to cope with this diagnosis. This is not something to sweep under the rug and deny; it is something that many of us are dealing with daily due to the extended lifetime of our loved ones.
For those who have a friend who is a family caregiver dealing with this issue, could you oﬀer them an hour or two of your time to sit with their loved one that would give your friend a chance to take a walk or go grocery shopping? Men can also be of great help to female caregivers by sharing with her male patient by talking regarding his military experiences, playing cards, or simply just sitting in the room reading a book to keep an eye on the patient that they are safe.
Take a few moments to reach out and make a diﬀerence in someone’s life.
K. Myers –