ST. LOUIS - Help is just a phone call away. In the Spirit of the Holidays, we are highlighting the work of the KTVI and KPLR Spirit of St. Louis Charities.
The Greater Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association serves 96 counties. A 24/7 helpline connects the public with needed services. It could be a rainy Sunday afternoon or the wee hours of the morning, there is always someone standing by to help those touched by memory loss.
Close to 8,500 calls have been handled by the Greater Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association over the past year.
“Often when families call it is a very emotional time for them because they’re making a big step and they’re kind of realizing they need help,” says Cheryl Kinney, senior director of client services, which includes the helpline.
Terry McLeod is a volunteer helpline specialist. She started four years ago. Once the disease touched her own family, she felt compelled to help others.
“I feel like the most overwhelming theme of the people that we talked to is their feelings of guilt and frustration that they’re not doing enough or they’re frustrated with the person with dementia,” she says. “If you’re having wandering problems, bathing issues, a common problem, they don’t want to bath anymore. We can help with all those things.”
The Alzheimer’s Association has a call center at its home office in Chicago. Calls go there first and individuals get immediate support any time of the day, any day of the week. After the initial contact volunteers from local chapters call the person back and direct them to resources or just offer encouragement. It’s also an entry point to receive other services.
“We have support group meetings, an education program, online resources, and care consultations where we can provide more in-depth support,” Kinney says.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease progresses in stages so a caregiver may need the helpline multiple times as the disease progresses.
“The brain cells are dying because there are plaques and tangles that are gumming up the brain cells and it’s causing them to not work properly and then they die off. But there is hope that a cure will be found in the near future,” Kinney says.
In the spirit of the holidays and the spirit of giving, Fox 2 and KPLR 11, along with Bommarito Automotive Group, want you to "Pick Your Charity! Pick your Car, Truck, or SUV!" For a $10 online donation to one or all three Spirit of St. Louis charities—the Alzheimer’s Association, Marygrove, or Heat Up St. Louis—you will be entered to win a Mazda, GMC, or Honda vehicle.