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January 26, 2009
When Mom Wants to Break Up Your Relationship


January 5, 2009
When the Inevitable Moving Day Comes for Mom and Dad


December 15, 2008
Running Ragged in Caregiving Runaround


December 1, 2008
Getting a Handle on Your Own Stress


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Posted: January 28, 2008

Practical Caregiving

Preparing for the Inevitable (and Money-Saving Tip)

Want to buy $70 worth of food for $30?

There’s actually a way to do that. I recently I learned of an organization that is helping many people caregivers and their elderly included -- and it may help you, if it is in your state. Your income isn’t considered. Your need isn’t considered. Your age isn’t considered. There are no forms to fill out. It seems nothing onerous is considered and it is not a government handout.

I’m talking about a non-profit organization called Angel Food Ministries.

Here’s the deal. Once a month you can buy $70 worth of food through them for $30. And when you make the purchase, you can also take advantage of other special offerings, but that’s not a requirement. It looks like a terrific opportunity.

Angel Food Ministries figures that the $30, spent wisely with greater value for what’s purchased (that’s where the $70 value comes in), can provide almost a month of meals for an elderly person, or one week’s worth of meals for a family of four. The ministry was started in 1994 in a small rural community in Georgia and has expanded to 3,200 communities in 35 states.

All you need to do is order the food from the ministry and pay for it at least two weeks prior to picking it up from them. When you pick it up, you need to provide your own box. Check it out.

When you go to the website, click on Host Sites to determine whether there’s a location near you. Call the location near you to find out when you need to order and pay for the food, and when you can pick it up. You can also check the menu for the next month (which is what you would use for ordering) by clicking on Menu and then checking the month and state.

I am going to try it in February. I absolutely love to save money. I’ll let you know about my personal experience.

I asked Angel Food Ministries how they were funded. A spokeswoman told me they buy in such large quantities that they get huge discounts. You and I fund it when we buy food through them. Of course, they accept donations.

If you know of other organizations that help people this way (the elderly or any age), please let me know. I’ll check it out and then let everyone know through my column.

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 Now on to the rest of my column, with a pertinent question from my e-mailbag:

 Dear Jean:

I have appreciated the opportunity to read your columns. I certainly relate, as I have a husband who is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s disease and also an 89-year-old mother I am caring for. They are both in the same nursing home. Each day I help with their care.

I know that any day I could receive a call that either one of them has passed away. Since you have already passed that way, is there anything I should anticipate that perhaps you (in looking back) wished you had prepared for? How can I prepare for that? Or, can I ever be prepared?

Pamela P., St. Paul, Minnesota

Dear Pamela:

There are a few things you can do to prepare, but you will never be completely prepared. One of the most difficult things is to be willing to let them go. As their health deteriorates, you will be more willing to do that, but you will never be completely there. Family who are not close to them, either physically or emotionally, will probably have a problem with that.

Another very difficult thing is to let the loved one know you will be all right when they are gone. You are not telling them to die; you are telling them they can die when the time comes and that you will be okay. Let them know you love them and will miss them, but that they will not be suffering any longer and you will be all right.

Let them know you love them now as much, or more, than you did when they were healthy and spry. They will have the security of knowing you love them and that you will make sure they are well taken care of.

Talk about death, if they want to talk about death. They are facing the end, and you need to, also. Listen to their concerns and try to help them through these difficulties. Don’t argue with them about their feelings or concerns and don’t try to change their religious beliefs they have had for many years. They don’t feel well and won’t want you arguing with them. Just listen and try to help them through it. Sometimes just listening is enough.

Ask if there is anything they want or need, and do everything you can to get that for them. Sometimes it is a picture of their mother and father from when they were young. I got one for Mom; it calmed her to look at them. Dad had strokes, and his mind was affected differently, but he did enjoy talking about his parents and his brothers. Before he was ill, he very seldom talked about them.

Know that you are doing everything you can possibly do for them. You are human and cannot do everything. However, you are doing everything you can to take care of them. Don’t ever question that or make yourself feel guilty about not doing this or that. This is one problem many people have. Try to avoid it. You are doing everything you can possibly do, and you simply cannot do any more. In fact, you probably are doing more than most people.

After Mom and Dad died I felt their loss, but I also felt the loss of my life that I had had for 4 ½ years. For several days I had the feeling that I needed to get back to the house to take care of Mom and Dad. I had done that for so long that it was a normal feeling, and I needed to get over it. I deliberately went to the store, or left the house to do something else. The first thing I did to start a new life for myself was join a writer’s group. I would suggest that you think about what interests you have and then find a group of people with the same interests. In other words, find something you will enjoy.

You will have a period of mourning, but you will gradually get a life of your own. Start thinking now about what you want to do so that when the time comes you have some ideas.

Mom had Alzheimer’s and Dad continued to have strokes, which affected his mind. They both became like little children. I feel I got a glimpse of both of them as they were when they were little children. That was a very precious experience for me and when I think about it, it makes me feel so good even today.

You may or may not have a similar experience with your husband or mother. Either way, try to see the good and the wonderful things about them at this part of their life instead of just seeing the bad parts. There is something good about them now. Seeing the good will help you and them. Learn to enjoy them the way they are.

© 2008 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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