ACT on Alzheimer’s Northfield

“Ardy is a caregiver.  Her husband, Jim, was a beloved English teacher at Northfield High School. He also was the announcer at local sporting events. He sang in the church choir.  Jim Koehler died from Alzheimer’s disease.

When he was first diagnosed, his friends had trouble believing it.  Jim seemed the same to them in casual conversation. But Jim wasn’t the same.

Ardy cared for Jim at home for about ten years. Then, they were both seriously injured in an automobile accident. Jim was admitted for rehabilitation/transitional care and physical therapy and then transferred to Memory Care at Three Links for a year and a half. As Ardy became strong enough to again care for Jim, he went home. But she relied on Adult Day Services providing six hours of care two days a week for Jim. It included transportation, socialization, meals, enrichment activities, and offered bathing, which was physically challenging at home.  Caring for someone with memory loss requires 24-hour care. Jim couldn’t be left alone.  Adult Day Services was a blessing.

Ardy also depended upon special friendships forged with a group of friends referred to as the “list of five.” Ardy could count on these five key people when she needed them. Jim’s “five” would take him for coffee, for a walk in the neighborhood, or just to visit.  Ardy is a natural caregiver. She is now a member of and advocate for the Northfield Senior Center’s Memory Café program. Ardy says the program is, “...a neutral, welcoming environment for those living with memory loss. It’s not health care oriented.  It’s a place to come, talk, have fun, and receive support.”

Ardy is active with Northfield’s ACT because she knows that community awareness is important. So is early diagnosis of the disease. When Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed, families need support, accurate information, and access to community resources.”

About Our ACT Community

Representatives from Three Links, Rice County Social Services, and the Northfield Senior Center were the lead partners in establishing the Northfield ACT on Alzheimer’s team in 2014. The Dementia Capable Communities Toolkit provided the blueprint for an interdisciplinary ACTion Team that includes community leaders, health professionals, government leaders, and residents.

Snapshot of Activities

  • Printed and disseminated “Know the 10 Signs” bookmarks
  • Created a community resource brochure and a speaker’s bureau for local events
  • Partnered with city and county disaster planning efforts to include planning for people with dementia
  • Trained law enforcement/first responders
  • Hosted a caregiver summit
  • Established an Alzheimer’s resource section in the Northfield Public Library
  • Hold community conversations at a local pub known for engaging the community in public discussions

Resources, News and Events

Materials

Northfield: Becoming a Dementia-friendly Community

In the News

Upcoming Series on Alzheimer’s Aims to Make Northfield a More “Dementia Friendly” Community 
October 2, 2014, Northfield News

Archives

“Conversation on Alzheimer’s” held November 30, 2015

Northfield ACT on Alzheimer’s Community Summit held November 10, 2015

Minute with the Northfield Mayor 
Highlights Northfield's efforts be come dementia-friendly (1:43)
November 5, 2015 

Action Community Team Contact 

Patricia Vincent
patricia.vincent@threelinks.org