Alzheimer’s Resource Sessions Coming to CALS Branch Libraries

Alzheimer’s Disease can be a frightening prospect for those with the disease and for their families. Community education is vital to help families cope and to teach strategies for safety and comfort. This winter, the library system will host public educational sessions led by an expert community educator, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association – Arkansas Chapter.

“Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia” and “10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s” will take place at the CALS Fletcher and Terry branch libraries. Patrick Lindsey of the Arkansas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association stated that these programs will help attendees identify Alzheimer’s in its early stages, introduce attendees to the resources at their disposal, and introduce clinical trials that might be available through TrialMatch. “We offer strategies for how to proceed after a diagnosis and how to engage effectively as a caregiver,” Lindsey said.

The community educator will be Mary Kate Bartnik, who has a master’s degree in gerontology, the scientific study of human aging and its associated challenges. Ms. Bartnik wants to use her gerontology background in a way that can provide concrete help to the community.

“My grandmother suffered from dementia, so my desire to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association is personal as well as professional,” Ms. Bartnik said. “Often, I think people attribute memory loss to “getting older” and don’t follow up with care or take safety precautions for themselves or loved ones. I hope I can help people get connected with the many resources the Alzheimer’s Association has to offer.” Because of her background, Ms. Bartnik said, she has learned of tragic consequences when Alzheimer’s is not diagnosed. That’s why she feels that raising community awareness is crucial.

Susie Sward, Assistant Branch Manager at the Fletcher Library, also has a personal reason to want to help community members with the challenges of Alzheimer’s and dementia. “My father-in-law was diagnosed in 2012, so it hits close to home,” Sward said. “I’m hoping the sessions will be extremely helpful because Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects millions, not just directly but also as caregivers and extended family members.”

The first session of “Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia” is scheduled for the Fletcher Library (823 N. Buchanan) on December 4 from 10:00-11:30 a.m. Those who need an after-work session can attend on January 9 at the Terry Library (2015 Napa Valley Dr) from 6:00-7:00 p.m. “10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s” will take place on February 13 at 6pm at the Terry Library and on a date to be announced at the Fletcher Library.