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Posted on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Grandparents can be great parents, especially with a bit of help

By Alan Caldwell


Sue Monet with Catholic Social Services

There are such good programs (and good people!) for seniors in the local area, as we heard this past weekend on the radio show. Sue Monet and Chris Rockwood from Catholic Social Services joined us first. Sue Monet is the interim director of older adult services, and Chris Rockwood is the program coordinator for their Grandparents as Parents program.

Sue explained that you certainly don't need to be Catholic to participate in any of the more than 20 programs offered through Catholic Social Services. The Catholic community supports this nonprofit organization, and it receives funding from numerous other local groups.


Chris Rockwood with Catholic Social Services

We focused on the Grandparents as Parents program, helping support grandparents (and other family relatives) who find themselves taking care of grandchildren. The program is open to everybody, and there is no cost or fees.

Chris shared what she commonly hears when grandparents in this situation call: "I just need to know I am not alone." The program offers many support groups throughout Washtenaw County, and the most significant benefit is these grandparents realize and see they are not alone. They talk and share experiences and learn from and support each other.

It was heartwarming to hear the stories of families really stepping up and taking on so much responsibility to help their grandchildren. Chris said, "None of these people expected to be doing this, but they all want to be doing it."

Sue spoke of the financial aid available for these situations. The Child Only grant is based on the child's need, not the family income. Application for these funds is through the state Department of Human Services.

To hear our 13-minute talk, click the audio link:

Everything Elderly 0317 CSS Grandparents as Parents.mp3">

To get in touch with Sue, Chris, or the Grandparents as Parents program, call 734-712-3625, or visit their website


Marti Coplai with Evangelical Homes of Michigan

Photos by Sheila Doeden

Marti Coplai from Evangelical Homes of Michigan joined us next. Marti is the director for Evangelical's Memory Support Center at Brecon Village in Saline. Marti described how she came for a tour of the facility a few years ago and never left! She fell in love with the place and found her career home. Marti is fulfilling her passion every day, creating a better life for people with memory issues.

The Memory Support Center has three group homes with up to 12 residents in each home. They use a household model, with residents participating to the extent possible, cooking and making decisions on the programs offered. The emphasis is on the capabilities of the residents, not the disabilities.

The center also offers an adult day program, available to families in the community for a part of a day or full days. Those in the adult day program take advantage of activities similar to those offered to the residents, including art and music therapy.

Marti is a certified master trainer in the Best Friends approach to dementia care. Best Friends is about really getting to know the person and their background, being there for them and accepting them for who they are.

Evangelical is offering a Caring for Someone with Dementia program this coming Saturday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at St. Joseph Mercy Saline. Teepa Snow, a dementia care expert (she is absolutely terrific!), will present on understanding dementia behaviors and communicating with those with memory issues.

To listen to this 13-minute discussion, click the audio link:

Everything Elderly 0317 Marti Coplai.mp3">

To get in touch with Marti, Evangelical's Memory Support Center or to sign up for the March 24 dementia seminar, please call 734-295-9811, or go to the website

Alan Caldwell and Sheila Doeden co-host Everything Elderly every Saturday morning at 8:30 on 1290 WLBY. In their day jobs, Alan and Sheila co-own and co-manage Senior Helpers, providing in-home care services, primarily to the elderly. Both can be contacted at, or at 734-927-3111.