There are many ways to help out a family dealing with disease. For us, Jerry was “knocked out” of the financial world at a young age. He began showing symptoms at 49, I was 44. He declared 100% disabled at 50 and officially diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia at 51. For most people, those are their prime earning years. As I look back, I can see God’s working toward our provision, way before Jerry became ill. We had a house paid off and own very little on a second home. Those homes became our “bank”. I still worked at the time, but my hours had to be cut shorter and shorter, the more Jerry needed assistance. We still had two kids in college and three weddings to pay for, so I had to be judicious about how I spent my money. With no future increasing income to look forward to, I’ve had to stretch our money as long as far as it will stretch. We’ve sold one house, and I am fully aware that as Jerry’s needs become greater, we may need to sell our primary home eventually. It’s a complete downward spiral and I’m determined not to go down that spiral, at least without having a little fun doing it! (Thus, painting.) We’ve still got a long way to go. This is a marathon.
Many families are devastated by this disease, both emotionally and financially. A lot of caregivers are caring for a parent, but when it’s the prime household earner, the spouse, not only is the income cut short, but the helping hand is not there anymore. The wife (me) not only becomes the caregiver, but also becomes the maintenance man.
Once I reached retirement age, I was finally able to stay home with Jerry full time. Here’s where it gets sticky. I just had to pay a small fortune to have the wood rot repaired, leaky ceiling fixed and house painted. You know how it is. When houses get old, they need repair. $$$$. When grass grows, it needs cutting. Rusty door knobs need WD40. Screws need tightening. Pipes burst. When filters need changing, I need a ladder. (Ha. I was wondering if you were still reading.) I mean, when am I going to get my pedicure?!
So, when you meet someone who is caring for a husband who is ill, that’s the way you can help. Our church has a wonderful outreach ministry called Operation In As Much which addresses this exact need. So, if you feel uncomfortable talking to someone with dementia, maybe you’re less uncomfortable fixing a broken light switch.
Gotta go finish painting my pink bathroom. Hope it gets finished today.