Walking My Momma Home is a memoir of my mom and me. It’s about love, hope, uncertainty, role reversal, courage and the raw humanity in Mom’s experience of losing herself to the disease. It’s about the hard decisions, conflicts, the relationship balancing and personal soul-stretching my care-giving required. It’s our story of surprising joy and laughter, of tears and terrors, of opening hearts and deep, emotional healing.

Filled with stories, reflection, insightful questions, and invaluable resources, Walking My Momma Home helps you reflect on and process your own journey through the raw experience of fellow travelers walking dementia’s labyrinth.

You are NOT Alone!

Over 15.7 million people today are caring for a loved one with dementia. As caregivers, it’s easy for us to feel isolated. If you’re weary of the heartache and losses you both suffer, of the restless nights and chaotic days, then you know that our frustrations, helplessness, and fear can drive us to our knees. Dementia is cruel.

But the care-giving journey that we are on also offers unexpected, uplifting gifts:

♥ profound personal insight     

♥ explosive spiritual growth     

♥ discovery of our deepest self

All of these gifts are buried, to be uncovered in the experience of walking alongside. Care-giving is tough, yet it can open a channel to accessible grace that will change your life forever.

Walking My Momma Home is a memoir of my mom and me. It’s about love, hope, uncertainty, role reversal, courage and the raw humanity in Mom’s experience of losing herself to the disease. It’s about the hard decisions, conflicts, the relationship balancing and personal soul-stretching my care-giving required. It’s our story of surprising joy and laughter, of tears and terrors, of opening hearts and deep, emotional healing. It’s our story of surprising joy and laughter, of tears and terrors, of opening hearts and deep, emotional healing.

Filled with stories, reflection, insightful questions, and invaluable resources, Walking My Momma Home helps you reflect on and process your own journey through the raw experience of fellow travelers walking dementia’s labyrinth.

PRAISE FOR WALKING MY MOMMA HOME:

“There are truly no words for how deeply this book resonated with me. There were so many days while reading it that the bravery and authenticity Kathy showed by sharing her journey helped me face the walk I’m currently on with my parents. I laughed. I cried. And then I cried some more, but I cried tears of comfort and understanding. This book is the ultimate story of the cycle of life – the journey home – that each of us is on, and it’s full of light, love, and laughter along with all the tears. Thank you, Kathy, for writing such a powerful, heartfelt book and for sharing your journey and your mom’s journey with the world. I’m forever grateful.” — D. D. Scott, International Bestselling Author

Here’s an excerpt from Walking My Momma Home

“Introduction

And so, it begins…

“Kathy, do you see those pink trees? Don’t run into them. WATCH OUT! Can’t you see them? They’re in the middle of the road. WATCH OUT! Oh, look at those colorful ties. I wonder why they are floating there? Do you think Jim would like one?”

With my 90-year-old mom’s startling hallucinations, an unexpected phase of life unfolded…for both of us…

Our day had started with a joyful errand, shopping for her dress for our son’s wedding, just the two of us out on a warm, sunny June day, strolling through our local department store, eyes out for the perfect ensemble for a beach wedding at the end of the summer. It ended with: visions of pink trees in the road, of dogs’ heads materializing through non-existent wallpaper,lines of soldiers gazing at a general who was issuing motivating orders on the eve of war and a malevolent flying squirrel whooshing by her bed in the dark.

These images terrorized my legally blind mom as she cowered on top of the covers in our guest room, too frightened to sleep that night.

What came next in my mom’s descent into dementia was a stunning, troubling, more than occasionally comical but ultimately humbling journey of the soul. It affected each of my family members uniquely, opening us, if reluctantly, to a world of the unknown.

For Mom, it was a serious and seemingly impossible fight as she struggled mightily to grasp at and maintain her sense of control despite intermittent but ever-increasing confusion.

For me and my family, it stretched us, built up walls then broke down the barriers between us. It brought me, her primary care partner, to my knees as I encountered one unexpected and absurd development after another – doing my best to keep my own balance while coping with and caring for Mom in her new, topsy-turvy reality. Finally, it taught me and is still teaching me, to release control, to rest, to love and to cherish small moments.

The care-giving path is a rocky one, fraught with detours, difficult decisions, and spiritual challenges. It is one that so many of us will face. It’s a path we travel that most surely is not the one we would have chosen for our loved one or for ourselves. Yet, how we choose to travel this road can open our eyes to a gentleness in life – a slower, more mindful appreciation of what matters when all else is stripped away.

I’ve discovered that I walk in parallel with Mom as her identity slowly unravels.

She is on a path facing unfathomable loss – loss of familiarity, of recognition of things present, indeed of the self that served her well for her 90+ years; yet, what she loses in her grip on reality, she is gaining in sweetness, innocence and a level of trust she could never quite grasp while wholly in control of her faculties.

The other path, mine, in this case, finds me walking this mind-altering labyrinth day-by-day hoping to grow more deeply into the higher self that God intended for me – striving to meet each new challenge with humor, grace and trust – qualities opposite my own intense, and alright, I’ll say it, anxious personality, qualities I’ve often found in short supply in my past.

Through caring for Mom, God has given me an enormous lesson in humility and an unexpected, though often resisted, opportunity to grow into someone different in my second stage of life. My hope is that by recounting my own stumbles and stretches, our family challenges and resolutions, and Mom’s fight for independence, clarity of mind and finally trust and rest, that you who are on similar paths may gain solace in the work you shoulder.

If you are caring for a loved one with dementia you certainly are not alone. According to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 in the U.S. are living with dementia. 70 – 80% of those (5.5 million people of all ages in the US) are afflicted with Alzheimer’s dementia, the most common form. This number is expected to double by 2050 to 13.8 million people. Add to these numbers the more than 100 other forms of dementia, including Dementia with Lewy Bodies (LBD – which we suspect is Mom’s type and the second most common form) vascular dementia from strokes, and dementia from Parkinson’s Disease, the crisis threatens to overwhelm us.

These figures are daunting. They cry out for intervention. No, they scream for a cure. And many hopeful signs for diagnosis and treatment are in the offing. But…if you are one of the many caring for someone you love who is experiencing dementia, these figures mean only one thing. You and your loved one will travel a path like none you’ve ever imagined. You are facing a walk into the complete unknown.

In this book, you won’t find medical advice for your journey. What you will find is a recounting of real-life events, emotional, humorous, poignant and infuriating events that make up the last few years I spent with my mom. I offer this story from my care partner perspective and share what I know now that you may find useful.

Let’s walk together and help each other along the way.

But, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning…”

Want to read more?  To download a free sample or read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Go to  https://www.Amazon.com/dp/B07J47Z28X

Walking My Momma Home eBook edition is available now, with paperback and audiobook versions to be published yet this fall.

If you are intrigued by what you read, or if it helps you as you walk your own loved one’s dementia labyrinth, please drop me an email to tell me your story: kathyfloracoach@gmail.com or Kathy@kathyflora.com

You can also join me on my website and on social media at https://www.KathyFlora.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kakthy.flora.372

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kathyflora

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kateatthebeach

 

Click Here To Read Kathy’s Blog Posts

Click Here To Read Kathy’s Blog Posts

About Kathy Flora

Kathy Flora is a Nationally Certified Career Counselor and Master Career Coach. She began this work at Purdue University in College Placement. Through successive job changes, she’s worked as a consultant, a business executive, organization development and job search trainer, an elected State Representative in New Hampshire, an HR representative at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, and finally as a leadership program manager in an Intelligence Community agency in the federal service in Washington D. C. and Tampa, Florida.

Her life’s passion has been helping others find theirs. She has been a Hospice volunteer, is a leadership and HR blogger for A. J. O’Connor Associates, a volunteer career coach and speaker for CancerandCareers.org, and she delights in spending time helping out at Selah Vie, the local thrift store of Selah Freedom, a national not-for profit organization that fights Human Trafficking on the Suncoast and across the country.

She is a mom, a grandma, a daughter, a sister, a friend and Jim’s loving wife, a political junkie, public speaker, novice hiker, and an avid cyclist. She and Jim live in Bradenton, FL, with an inspiring view of the sunsets over the marsh along the Manatee River in a neighborhood with plenty of walking trails and biking paths. Those paths are where she finds her bliss nearly every morning before starting the rest of her day.

This is her first book, and it was a surprise even to her since she sat down to write on an entirely different topic. But as you may have noticed, God had other plans.

Cancer Costs: How To Manage Housing Expenses During Treatment

By Melissa Brock January 31, 2019   

A cancer diagnosis can be heartbreaking without adding financial worries to the mix. If bills pile up and wages grind to a halt, it can become impossible to manage expenses and can lead to an unbearable degree of stress. Amid crushing medical bills and smaller paychecks, you and/or a loved one may even face the harsh reality of a home loss.

These financial realities can wreak havoc on even the most savvy investor’s savings, but there are various assistance options that can help. If you’d like to stay in the comfort of your own home while undergoing cancer treatment, it can be a wise move, as cancer can be a temporary condition.

Sarah Manes, vice president of programs and community relations for the Angel Foundation, assists adults in active cancer treatment who live or receive treatment in the Twin Cities, Minnesota metro area. The Angel Foundation provides emergency financial assistance for non-medical expenses, and Manes says she sees a lot of families who are concerned about groceries, utilities, gas for vehicles and mortgage payments — the basics. “They’re worried about, ‘How am I going to get gas in my tank because I’m going to the Mayo Clinic five times a week and it’s 100 miles away?’” Manes says. “Or, ‘I’m one payment away from losing my house.’”

In one 2017 Duke University survey, more than one-third of 300 cancer patients who were interviewed reported that they spent more on their treatments than they had initially anticipated. Sixteen percent of those interviewed reported high or overwhelming financial stress. These individuals, who had health insurance, said they spent about a third of their total household income on health care-related costs, not including insurance premiums. More than 60% of this particular group claimed that private insurance was their primary source of health care.

A 2017 report from the Cancer Action Network reported that U.S. cancer patients paid nearly $4 billion out of pocket for cancer treatments. The U.S. spent a total of $87.8 billion in 2014 on cancer-related health care through employers, insurance companies and taxpayer-funded public programs like Medicare and Medicaid and through cancer patients and their families.

Assess your financial situation

If you’ve been recently diagnosed or if you’ve been dealing with a cancer diagnosis, now might be the time to take a few steps to evaluate whether some resources can help you straighten out your finances, help you avoid bad credit as well as foreclosure.

Step 1: Do an income and insurance evaluation.

Understand how you can manage your job and how your employer can help during a cancer diagnosis. According to cancerandcareers.org, it’s a great idea to do the following:

Know everything you can about your insurance policy. Understand what your insurance covers, and what it doesn’t. If you have your health insurance with your employer, don’t let your health insurance lapse, and always pay premiums on time. Know the details of your plan, including whether a provider is in-network or out-of-network. If you don’t have health insurance through your employer, ask yourself if you need Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company. Do your research so you understand the most minute details.

Know your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that guarantees certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year with no job loss threat. Employers are also required to maintain health benefits for FMLA-eligible workers.

Learn about your company’s disability plan. Understand both short and long-term disability policies. If there comes a time when you will not be able to work, you can apply for disability benefits.

Step 2: Know the costs of your treatment.

It’s best to ask questions about the expenses you’ll incur during your cancer treatment. The list of expenses from American Cancer Society can include:

  • Provider visits
  • Lab tests
  • Clinic visits for treatments
  • Procedures
  • Imaging tests
  • Radiation treatments
  • Drug costs
  • Hospital stays
  • Surgery
  • Home health care

Health insurance won’t cover everything, so ask your doctor and insurance company about cancer costs. It’s also possible to be proactive and ask about alternatives. For example, instead of an expensive chemo pill, your oncologist may be able to prescribe a generic drug that is just as effective.

Step 3: Calculate your monthly expenses.

Use a monthly expense calculator to analyze how your cancer care expenses will fit into the context of your overall budget. After you’ve completed these steps, you might find that you’re short on money and your home could be in jeopardy.

If you’re not sure where look for support, there are a number of programs that can help you find the right path. Kathy Conley, stakeholder engagement specialist for GreenPath Financial Wellness, offers support and guidance for people who seek to buy and keep their homes. “It’s a people-centered, holistic approach. We help people with financial wellness. We look at the whole picture as well. If you’ve got increased medical expenses, we put that into the context of the client’s whole financial picture,” says Conley.

Manage housing costs

Mortgage payments are likely one of your biggest living expenses and it can be an enormous challenge to keep up payments while fighting cancer. It’s important to work with your lender or servicer upon diagnosis. Learn about your options, which could include a short-term repayment plan, forbearance agreement, loan modification and more.

Conley says that once GreenPath gets in contact with a client, specialists do a snapshot of the financial challenges a client is facing, how long it’s been going on, what their current financial situation is and also take a look at their goals. Conley says one option could be to do a loan modification or re-amortization. More specifically, you could change the terms of your mortgage, which involves extending your mortgage term. An example could be turning a 30-year loan into a 40-year loan.

There are several ways you can shrink your mortgage payments:

  1. Recalculate your escrow payment. Have your mortgage company check how much you’re putting away for taxes each month. If your homeowner’s insurance or property taxes are lower, your escrow amount could be lowered and your overall payment can be lowered, too.
  2. Drop PMI. If you have private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is required when you put less than a 20 percent down payment on your home, find out from your lender how it would be possible to eliminate it.
  3. Appeal your home’s assessed value. Talk to your county officials and get your home’s assessed value lowered by checking that the county has all the information correct about your home, particularly if you think your taxes are too high.
  4. Look for a cheaper homeowners insurance policy. Your payments will be reduced if you lower your homeowner’s insurance rate.
  5. Refinance. Refinancing does cost more initially because of application fees, the cost of an appraisal, origination fees, document processing fee, underwriting fee, credit report charge, title research and insurance, recording fees, tax transfer fees, etc. but refinancing offers a long-term solution to more affordable payments. Try using a Mortgage Refinance Calculator to see how much you’ll save over the long term.

Seek additional mortgage help

You can also check to see if you qualify for mortgage assistance through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), or Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), or Freddie Mac, are government-sponsored enterprises which back many mortgages in the United States. If you have a loan through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Flex Modification Program can reduce your mortgage payments through a few different options:

  • You can add your past due amount to your unpaid loan balance and recalculate your monthly payments over the new loan term.
  • Adjust your interest rate.
  • Forbear some of the principal balance, which means a temporary payment suspension or loan modification.

To explore your eligibility, check out Fannie Mae’s loan lookup tool or Freddie Mac’s loan lookup tool.

The Hardest Hit Fund could also be a resource; it offers mortgage payment assistance if you’re unemployed or underemployed, advocates for principal reduction for more affordable mortgages, offers help when transitioning out of your home and into more affordable living.

Paying for home modifications

It may be necessary to make certain physical changes to your home during and after cancer treatment, including:

  • Easy-to-reach safety rails
  • Ramps instead of stairs
  • Shower seats
  • Hospital beds
  • Over-bed tables
  • Patient lifts and slings
  • Trapeze bars
  • Lift chairs
  • Safety rails
  • Lift chairs
  • Elevated toilet seats
  • Handheld showers
  • Grab bars

Centers for Independent Living (CIL) are nonprofit agencies run by people with disabilities within local communities. CILs are free and they provide information, peer support, skills training and can also utilize assistive technology programs that can also evaluate changes to your home to help meet your needs. They generally do not sell products or charge a fee for their services.

Loans, home improvement grants and other assistance programs may be just the ticket to help you fund your modifications. Check out these websites for more information:

Bill and utility assistance

Manes acknowledges the widespread help among government agencies and nonprofit organizations, and the Angel Foundation provided nearly 2,000 emergency financial assistance grants in 2018. “We refer to our services as the bridge that gets you to the next point,” Manes says. “A family will list out what they need help with, whether it’s mortgage or utilities, and that includes gas, water, electricity,” Manes says. “The check is cut directly to the bank or the landlord. We never give the cash or check directly to the patient. We want to make sure the money is going to the correct places.”

Similar to the Angel Foundation, utility companies often have funds to assist individuals and families. Homeowners, renters and subsidized housing tenants may be eligible for government programs and local programs in your area, and resources include:

If you need to downsize

If it’s necessary to downsize in order to manage your monthly payments, a short sale or deed in lieu could be an option to avoid foreclosure. In a short sale, also known as a pre-foreclosure sale, you sell your home for less than the balance remaining on your mortgage. If your mortgage company agrees to a short sale, you can sell your home and pay off all (or a portion of) your mortgage balance with the proceeds.

A deed-in-lieu occurs when you transfer the ownership of your property to the owner of your mortgage in exchange for a release from your mortgage loan and payments. There are some options to help you leave the home immediately, to stay in the home for up to three months without paying rent or lease the home (at market rates) for up to one year.

Other resources

Many financial aid programs and cancer organizations can help you determine the best course of action and some may also help with specific mortgage and utilities-related expenses. Do your research to find programs that fit the needs of your financial situation:

The bottom line

Ultimately, if you’re struggling with a cancer diagnosis, don’t feel as if you have to fend for yourself.

Manes says she sees people who have to make hard choices and sacrifices every day. “‘I’m sitting on $12,000 on medical bills. I’m going back to school. I have a car that broke down. I  don’t think I can pay for a taxi,’” she says. “It doesn’t matter what type of cancer you have. People have to be able to get help and they need to get help now.”

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Black Men In America.com Administrator
Black Men In America.com is a popular website with a focus on black men. Approximately 45% of our site visitors are women. According to Alexa Internet and Ranking.com, Black Men In America.com is consistently ranked as one of the Top 10 most popular web sites (online community) on the Internet in the Ethnic/African/African-American category. Although our focus is on black men, we welcome all people, points of views and perspectives. Please do not use this site to post or transmit any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane or indecent information of any kind, including without limitation any transmissions constituting or encouraging conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, national or international law. You alone are responsible for the material you post.
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