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Marlis DelMain helps her husband, LeRoy, walk down the hallway to watch a program at The Cottages at Emmanuel last week. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Caregivers retreat set Feb. 15 at Holy Rosary

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At least seven years ago, Marlis DelMain added a new job title to her life: caregiver.

Her husband, LeRoy, was developing Alzheimer's and had diabetes.

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"Mainly, you have him on your mind all the time," she said.

The Becker County Caregiver Support Team is planning a winter retreat for caregivers like DelMain on Feb. 15.

LeRoy moved into The Cottages in Emmanuel last summer, but before that, DelMain said her life revolved around being there for her husband.

She quit most of the activities she was involved in to stay home with him, and when she did go out, she'd rush back to care for him.

Now at the Cottages, professional staff care for him 24 hours a day. "That's the best place for him," she said.

Becoming a full-time caregiver happened gradually. They were retired, and enjoyed traveling, golfing and eating out with friends. "We had a good time and good friends," she said.

But in June, LeRoy went into Emmanuel's short-term care and then into The Cottages, where he has his own apartment.

DelMain said it's like home because she decorated with LeRoy's prized fish mounts and deer antlers.

"It's wonderful not to have the burden of being there 24 hours a day," she said of his move into Emmanuel.

And she's starting to take part in some of those activities she had to cut out of her life before.

She goes to see LeRoy every day -- "it's more for me than him," she admits -- but can also make a little time for herself.

Some of that time will include the winter caregivers retreat, as it has a couple times in the past.

This year it's Monday, Feb. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Holy Rosary Church. It will feature an English tea for the ladies and a cowboy coffee for the men and is free for primary caregivers throughout Becker County.

"It was the first separation from him," she said of her first retreat," and I thought, 'I don't know if I can do this.'"

But she did and ended up enjoying the experience.

"It's the separation a caregiver needs," she said. "And (it's helpful) being with those that have the same issues."

The Feb.15 retreat will be an afternoon of music and relaxation. Cowboy hats are welcome for the men, and hat and gloves are welcome for the ladies.

"It's good speaker, it's good activities, it's good food. It really is a luxury," she said.

RSVP by Feb. 5 for the winter retreat to Karen Lenius, Mahube Senior Programs, at 847-1385, 888-458-1385 or klenius@mahube.org.

There is no fee. Respite care is available at Emmanuel Community by calling Amy Dallmann at 844-9445, or in-home care by calling 866-521-8093.

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