Caregivers of those

with dementia issues invited to meetings

After two years of using a valuable community resource, I must share so that others can use it. When my wife was diagnosised with Alzheimers, I started attending the once a month meeting held in Chanute. Both caregivers, persons with dementia issues, and family members can and do attend. For an hour and a half caregivers share their problems/issues and possible solutions from others who have experience or first hand knowledge. Caregivers and persons with dementia issues meet in separate rooms. Each group is led by a caring understanding professional from the Alzheimers Association out of Kansas City. I know both ladies have made special trips to Chanute to help people cope with the demands of caregiving. They are a very valuable resource that either identify other resources to help or make suggestions to improve the situation, or how to better cope with an irrational, demanding, chaotic situation. No two dementia cases are alike from anyone’s perspective.

For every meeting I was amazed and challenged by the situations other caregivers related, except one when my wife was in her last days. I always left the meetings glad that I had attended. I know one couple who attended one meeting and found great help with the issues they were dealing with. Everyone gets to express what is concerning them and have others relate similar experiences, solutions or thoughts. And yes, on occasion raw emotions are expressed and received with understanding.

Many of us know people, who are caregivers. I strongly encourage each of you to tell them of this great resource, available in this community. I do not know why, but my experience with medical people is that they are not aware of this excellent resource in the community, or they do not take the time to push it. If anyone should be aware and promoting this resource, they should. Caregivers who do not take care of themselves may soon find that they cannot provide adequate care or the quality of care they once provided. Very few of us are trained caregivers, but when necessity comes we rise to the challenge. I have seen caregivers come highly stressed to these meetings and leave feeling like they have some new tools to cope. Many return to their next meeting more confident, relaxed, and self-assured. They know that others share their problems and know help is reasonably available.

This group meets the first Wednesday of the month at 9 am at the First Methodist Church. You do not need an invitation ... just show up. I have not mentioned that breakfast is also served at no cost to you. Normally the meetings are over at 10:30, but frequently caregivers want to continue conversations.

The two ladies from the Alzheimers Association accept each attendee where they are emotionally and situationally at and make this a valuable learning experience.  I have seen them draw out caregivers who initially did not want to share, by letting them watch other caregivers share their heart and struggle. Sharing a problem releases its hold on you and relief comes.  No one is required to share any more than they want to .

Again I encourage caregivers and family members to attend. If you know a caregiver, give them this information. The next meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 9 am at the First Methodist Church. And breakfast is served.

Gary Maxwell 



Medicaid expansion

I’m concerned about the misconceptions people have with Medicaid Expansion. It is something that I believe is vital to the healthcare of people who fit within a certain income range in Kansas and to the preservation of our state’s rural hospitals.

The money reserved for Medicaid Expansion is our taxpayer money. It comes from our billfolds, but because Kansas has chosen thus far not to expand Medicaid, it’s going straight to Washington D.C. and not coming back to Kansas.

For every dollar that a state pays to expand Medicaid, the government pays $13.41 (statistics from The Urban Institute). For the $525 million Kansas would have to pay for Medicaid Expansion over a ten-year period (none in the first two years), the federal government would return 5.3 billion (with a B) in Medicaid funding and 2.6 billion in hospital reimbursement payments. Had we accepted Medicaid Expansion from the beginning, we might not have lost Independence Mercy Hospital.

The Medicaid Expansion money from the federal government doesn’t go away completely. The federal government plan pays 100 percent of the cost for the first two years, then 95 percent the following year, 94 percent the year after that, etc., leveling off at 90 percent after six years with a guarantee for eight. Nothing has been said one way or the other about the money ending after that.

Non-participating states have spread fear that the federal money will stop after the first eight years. They have used this fear to reject the expansion, but there is no proof, declaration, or edict that it will stop and no precedent that one can use for comparison. It’s disappointing that these fear mongers have stopped our state from helping the people who fall within the healthcare gap.

The Medicaid Expansion money was designed to help uninsured families who fall within a certain income range – from the top of the poverty level to 138% above the federal poverty level – get affordable healthcare insurance. For a family of four, that would be an income range of $30,750 to $42,435. In Kansas, approximately 78,000 people fit within that range, and since the median household income in Neosho County is about $43,000 (statistics from Data USA), many people in our area are affected. I’m sure that everyone reading this knows someone who is in the gap – they are our friends and neighbors.

If the US Supreme Court had not ruled that Medicaid Expansion was a state choice and not a mandate, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Our friends and neighbors would have the help that they need to get affordable healthcare insurance, and our rural hospitals wouldn’t be as strapped as they are. But our state is run by a healthcare-is-a-privilege, don’t-want-to-make-it-too-easy-for-the-poor, corporation-owned governor, willing to allow 78,000 working people to die from lack of healthcare or go bankrupt trying to live, rather than allow Medicaid Expansion into our state. Kansas came so close this year. Our district’s state representative and senator voted for it, and it passed the House and the Senate. If it weren’t for Brownback’s veto, we would be planning for it now, rather than fighting for it all over again.

States that didn’t expand Medicaid saw their costs to provide health care to the poor rise twice as fast as states that did (from I don’t know of any states with Medicaid Expansion that regret getting it. It’s money returned to the state from the federal government. It’s additional jobs. It’s saving lives. It’s a humanitarian commitment to people of our state who never should have been denied affordable healthcare in the first place. We need to take care of our fellow Kansans. It’s inhumane not to do so.

Cindy Morrison



Opinion: Shame on those who refuse to stand

I just want to speak out against sports teams refusing to stand for the anthem of our flag. I also address this to anyone who will forget what that stands for. Thousands from WWI till now are giving their lives for our freedom. How dare them? Unless you wore a uniform of the United States of America you wouldn’t understand. They live in a country who allows them to make millions of dollars a year, and they don’t care. Shame on all of them. Our country is the best in the world. Love it or leave it. Try putting on a unform and see how it really is, you may change your mind.

A proud veteran,

John Shields


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