The Kutztown Community Library hosts a caregiver support group sponsored by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Their meetings are held on the 4th Tuesday of every month.
In the meetings, they aim to encourage educational and social support, help develop the methods and skills of the caregivers and help the caregivers maintain their own physical and emotional wellness.
Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder, is the most common form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease.
Sue Fields is a professional caregiver. Her responsibilities as a caregiver include housekeeping, meal preparation, running errands for clients who may not be able to and providing personal care and companionship.
“I think the benefit, besides to the person we’re giving the care to, is to the families,” she said. “It gives them peace of mind knowing that someone’s there to keep their loved one safe.”
“I really enjoy my job and I enjoy being with the people,” said Fields. “I feel that the customer-client relationship is very beneficial. We learn from them and they are happy to tell us about the old days and have someone to talk to.”
Caregiving is a rewarding profession in many ways, but the responsibility of caregiving can be strenuous, too, particularly on the families of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Kutztown Library Director Janet Yost was instrumental in organizing the support group and continues to help in the meetings.
“My mother had dementia and my sister was worn out. I saw that there was a need to learn more about how to care for someone. It’s so important that the caregivers remember to care for themselves, because if you’re not in good shape, you’re not going to be able to help,” said Yost.
“Our first contact was with Wendy Kerschner,” she continued. “She came here and did a presentation on caregiver support, and I asked her, “Can you start a support group?” and she linked me up with the Alzheimer’s Association. We contacted Cathy Ruhf, who is a caregiver, and she has been a wonderful asset. She does the work daily, so she has lots of tricks of the trade and she’s a really nice person.”
Wendy Kerschner is a territory manager for Comfort Keepers?. They provide in-home care for Berks County Seniors and other individuals who need assistance. Cathy Ruhf is the program coordinator for the support group.
For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter website, http://alz.org/delval/, or contact the Kutztown Community Library at 610-683-5820.