Being prepared… Families learn ins and outs of caring for elderly relatives

By By Sharon White/The Meridian Star
April 1, 2001
When 44-year-old Kathy Jenkins found she could not longer run a household, care for her special needs child and be a working wife who saw to the needs of an ailing and aging mother, she became desperate for help.
Like millions of Americans today, Jenkins found herself "all of a sudden" moving her mother into her home and shoving her personal needs aside.
Jenkins first began taking care of her mother, 77-year-old Mary Anderson, five years ago. Mrs. Anderson suffers from chronic heart and lung disease, which demand hefty doses of medication every few hours, and frequent breathing treatments daily.
Ricky Shirley said he understands all too well the difficulties that come with taking care of a relative who can no longer care for themselves.
Shirley's grandmother, Julia Nell Chatham, 86, began exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's in 1997. That year, Shirley moved Mrs. Chatham into his home at night and weekends, and paid a sitter to stay with her at his grandmother's house during the day.
Shirley, 46, has a administrative job that requires sometimes 45 hours a week of his time. He and his wife, Debbie, are also raising two daughters ages 17 and 12.
Finding a solution
Both Shirley and Jenkins said it was a new, yet emotional day when they accepted the fact it was time to place their loved-ones in a nursing home.
Learning by trial and error
Looking ahead with hindsight
Jenkins offered the same advice.
Where to go
For information about what the Social Security Administration can do for caregivers, call 800-772-1213 or 693-5010.
Sharon White is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at swhite@themeridianstar.com.

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