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By Kim Burdi – Herald Democrat
Texoma Council of Governments and Local Elder Assistance Partners came together Thursday morning in the Sherman Municipal Ballroom to host the sixth annual LEAP Caregiver Luncheon to raise money for programs and resources for caregivers in the community.
All proceeds will benefit programs such as the TCOG’s Time Out Program, which allows caregivers to drop off their loved ones while they take care of their own health or other needs. The money will also fund conferences, support groups, respite care and reading materials for local caregivers. Several vendors lined the ballroom so caregivers could pick up information or ask questions about their services.
In the past five years, L.E.A.P. has raised $13,085 and it expects to reach or exceed $15,000 after the Caregiver Luncheon, TCOG Area Agency on Aging Program Manager Judy Conner said. According to L.E.A.P, $13,085 allows for 875 hours of in-home respite care.
“We’re trying to provide information, resource books and agencies,” Conner said. “We want them to put faces with the services so they will call. Sometimes it’s hard to call some place you don’t know anything about without meeting the people.”
Buddy Booher of Sherman attended the luncheon with his wife Dorothy. Buddy has been his wife’s caregiver for the past five years. Dorothy has dementia. Buddy said she struggles to remember and comprehend so he makes sure she is dressed, eats well and entertained every day.
“When you’re a caregiver it’s 24/7,” Buddy said.
With the help of Conner, Buddy said he has been able to use the Time Out program on Mondays and Wednesdays each week. He said the program allows him to go grocery shopping, mow the lawn and complete other errands.
In the future, Buddy said he hopes a city, church or organization would offer a place with no limited hours of operation so it would be easier for a caregiver to take care of themselves and know their loved one is in good hands.
Nancy Jackson, director of community development at Home Hospice of Grayson, Cooke and Fannin counties, also spoke at the luncheon. She shared “Five Things I Wish I Had Known About Caregiving” in hopes to help new caregivers who may have been in the audience. Jackson was a caregiver for her father 17 years ago.
Jackson said she wished she would have known to question doctors and nurses about her father’s condition after he had a stroke. She also wished she knew what to expect as a caregiver and the best ways to take care of her father.
She encouraged caregivers to utilize organizations such as L.E.A.P. and TCOG. It is OK for a caregiver to take care of themselves, Jackson said.
“There are people who really care. All (caregivers) have to do is call, and we will tell them where to go,” Conner said. “Sometimes they don’t even know the questions to ask. We can help them find the questions they need to ask and the answers to them that will help make their caregiving experience less frustrating.”
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