Pella Chronicle

March 1, 2013

Hearthstone’s Alzheimer’s Support Group Plans Program on Hospice Care


The Chronicle

Pella — Hearthstone, a Ministry of WesleyLife, will explore Hospice Care and Dementia with Aleda Rolffs, a WesleyLife Hospice nurse on Friday, March 1 as part of its Alzheimer’s Support Group.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 1:30 p.m. in the East Social Room of Pella Manor, 608 E. Second St., Pella.

Hearthstone has conducted the Alzheimer’s Support Group for three years to promote greater understanding of the disease among caregivers, family members and friends of individuals with memory problems. Enhanced understanding enables caregivers and family members to strengthen their relationships with older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Strong relationships are one of the keys to enhanced health and well-being.   

Hearthstone’s Nancy Van Wyk, R.N., and Amy Stoltzfus, M.S.W., facilitate the group. They have completed training as Alzheimer's Support Group Facilitators through the Alzheimer’s Association.

The need for memory support in Pella and Marion County is at an unprecedented level. One in six Marion County residents is 65 or older and those 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Approximately half of those over age 85 have mobility, memory or self-care limitations. Support for caregivers is critical because more than half of the adults who enter assisted-living communities do so because of caregiver exhaustion.

“Hearthstone’s Alzheimer’s Support Group encourages people who have loved ones with memory problems to come learn more about the disease and the best care, while connecting with different generations and the community affected by this disease,” says Van Wyk, a Certified Dementia Practitioner and Resident Assessment Coordinator at Jefferson Place.

“This group allows us to share our extensive knowledge and best practices with those who are taking care of loved ones with memory problems,” adds Stoltzfus, a Social Worker at Jefferson Place. “We hope community members will join us for these programs so that they can better understand and serve their loved ones.”

Alzheimer's is a brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know, according to NIH. Over time, symptoms will most often get worse, and problems can include getting lost, repeating questions and taking longer than normal to finish daily tasks. As the disease progresses, people may have trouble learning new things, recognizing family and friends, and communicating. Eventually, they need total care.

Experts estimate that as many as 5.1 million people in the United States may have Alzheimer's disease. Symptoms usually begin after age 60, and the risk of developing the disease increases with age, although Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.

For more information about Hearthstone’s Alzheimer’s Support Group, please contact Nancy Van Wyk at 641-204-2655 or NVanWyk@wesleylife.org.