Group Helps Families Dealing With Alzheimer's
ROCKY MOUNT - As the baby boomer generation gets older, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's grows too. According to the Alzhiemer's Association, the disease is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. One local organization that is trying to help ease the burden for the growing number of caregivers.
Bob and Sue Kielholz were together 54 years, but half a century of memories took 18 months to erase.
"By the time she was down to her two last months, everything had been taken away from her. She couldn't talk, she coudln't walk, she coudn't feed herself, she wasn't potty trained, she didn't know me. Everything was gone," Kielholz said.
Bob Kielholz had to let go. He lost his wife to Azheimer's in August.
"It's a slow progression and as they go along, they lose everything the Good Lord gave them," Kielholz said.
Linda Newkirk works with the Alzheimers Association.
"There are more and more people who are recognizing that they are struggling," Newkirk said.
Someone new develops Alzheimer's every 70 seconds.
"The need to provide some opportunites for caregivers to take a break is what our respite reimbursement program does," Newkirk said.
The Heart of Missouri United Way helps fund that program.
It pays for caregivers to hire someone to take care of their loved ones so they themselves can take a break.
"Once you have someone convinced that they can take a break, I've had somebody call in and say, 'I wish I had done that a long time ago,'" said Pam Richmond with the Alzheimer's Association.
Bob Kielholz leaned on his church when he needed help.
"Everyone needs some time away. You cannot stay with somebody 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and continue to see them go downhill, you can't do that," Kielholz said.
Sue Kielholz may have left with few memories, but her husband only has more.
The Mid-Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association's respite program helped 82 people last year.