Senior Voices is a new series, sponsored by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan - Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund, to amplify the marginalized voices of seniors and those who serve them.
Caregiving Pastor’s Comforting Congregation of Family and Friends
I want all caregivers and for the future and all its their loved ones to be empowered uncertainties.” and supported. Most available resources are for caregivers that While she says that caregiving live in-state so I applaud agencies for five years from afar has like the Detroit Area Agency on been difficult, the pastor has Aging that provides support to a caregiver’s community - her long distance caregivers,” says brother and sister-in-law, the Lisa Cimino who incorporates her Detroit Area Agency on Aging, caregiving knowledge, resources a supportive husband, her best and experience into her ministry. “I friend, her church and a therapist. want seniors to be informed and
“You need a strong support
system. The stress and responsibility of caregiving are overwhelming. We cared for both parents. Mom passed in June, and I find comfort in the love we shared, the songs we sang, and worshiping together, despite the dementia. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my village, my faith in God, and asking for the help I needed to care for myself.”
Guiding Grandparents who are Parenting Again
The Grandparents Parenting Again & Kinship Care support group run by Ora Williams points to the support from the Max M. & Marjorie Fisher Foundation for their ability to now meet virtually for their discussions, workshops and speakers. The caregivers, ranging in age from 48 - 82, are receiving laptops and internet training for their twice-monthly meetings.
“We couldn’t let the pandemic wreck our meetings. The group’s been meeting
love guiding and supporting them through an adventure they might not have chosen. I’m there to let them know it can be done and done successfully,” she adds.
A bi-lingual group had been scheduled to begin in southwest Detroit but was postponed due to COVID-19. A new start date is pending. To learn more, contact Williams at: Grandparentsparenting again221@ gmail.com or 313.531.2025
Actively Aging in Place
Cora Martin, 84, who drives, walks regularly, and helps to distribute food boxes from her Christian Fellowship of Love church, is committed to making her home aging-in-place-friendly. She advises younger homeowners to pay attention to home repairs while they’re young.
“Focus on handicap assessable bathrooms, handrails, high toilets, and
for 10 years. Parenting again is a whole new world and requires support and resource information,” says Williams who is 71.
She formed the group after participating in a prison ministry which she joined to support incarcerated parents. Williams subsequently became president and was touched by the many grandparents raising the children of their incarcerated sons or daughters. “I love this work, and I
walk-in-showers. They will be a great
savvy friends in my life.” benefit as you age.”
Martin says in addition to getting home She advises her contemporaries to
modifications, she’s had important legal keep their communication skills current.
documents drafted and will soon revisit “If you are not online, you’ll fall through
her will. the cracks. As we age, our brain slows down, it gets harder for us to
“Everyone should take into consideration comprehend or grasp new technology,
that they need to have some type of legal so it’s hard to access a lot of information.
document stating what they want to have I’m blessed to have younger, computer-
done upon their demise.”
A Couple at Home: All They Need to Get By
Bernard Harden, 71, spends a lot of time grooming his home. As he perfects his masterpiece, the home he shares with his wife of 40 years, Denise, who is 65.
A professed do-it-yourselfer, he says there’s always something to do around the house and that this is a benefit of the pandemic.
“We’ve been here 40 years and I can’t think of any place where we’d get what I’ve created and maintained. We’re ready to age in place!” Harden says he and his wife have pretty much what they need – and they’ve taken this downtime to evaluate the big picture of life.
“There are some positives. I spend less money and I’ve acknowledged and advised others who are aging to adjust to this new normal and to adjust their consumerism. Consider not wanting so much.”
Lorean & Dwaine Phelps: The Sixth Sense That Saves
Dwaine Phelps, 71, says he has six senses. “The sixth sense,” he says, “is the sense to use the other five.” Phelps says a sense of humor is important as he maintains two homes - his and his mother’s. He also provides for her care, and runs back and forth to ensure all is well in both households.
“It’s a lot, but mom will have what she needs. I have three
caregivers, and what her finances won’t accommodate, I make up the rest.”
Phelps’ mom, Lorean, 95, suffers from dementia which he says worsened after his only sibling passed.
“She cared for my brother and me. She didn’t put me in a home, and I’m not putting her away!”