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Alzheimer's Support Group

Ron Kelner and Judy Witebsky

Alzheimer’s Caregivers find support; Barb and Stan found love, too!

Barb Harris and Stan Herman

Stan Herman joined the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group at Bet Shalom to meet people experiencing situations similar to his as a caregiver for his sister living with dementia. Little did he know how lucky that would be! Overwhelmed with caregiving, Stan was looking for help.   Rita Kelner and Judy Witebsky were the facilitators of the support group at that time. Based on how caring Stan was with his sister, Rita and Judy knew he was a good soul. Their close friend Barb Harris had attended the group to support her children who were helping their father, Barb’s former husband. Rita and Judy thought Stan would be a good match for Barb, so they asked Stan to call Barb and asked Barb to come back to the group for more support and to see Stan. The rest is history: they are a couple! Dating took a while because Stan was caregiving. They finally connected again after both volunteered for the “Keeping the Spirit Alive” conference for caregivers! Stan joined Bet Shalom and became a great friend to Judy and Rita.

Rita and Ron Kelner

The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group helps caregivers and their families through their journeys with their loved ones living with some form of dementia. Ron Kelner and Judy Witebsky now facilitate the monthly group, sharing helpful educational materials about caring for people with dementia. Some participants have been members of Bet Shalom or other synagogues; others are from the general community. We are very fortunate to be housed at Bet Shalom. This support group is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota – North Dakota Chapter.  

The group participants offer help to one another with the guidance of the facilitators.  They can share their experiences, if they choose to do so, in a safe, non-judgmental and confidential environment. People gain insights into ways of working with their loved ones living with dementia that benefit everyone. They also have a place where they are free to share their struggles and successes. Caregivers learn that they are not alone on their journey and that there are people who truly care about them and what they are going through.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 temporarily shut down the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group because the participants no longer had a private place to share their experiences. An online group was tried, but the caregivers did not want to share from home in front of their loved ones living with dementia.

Judy Witebsky

Ron and Judy are excited to restart the support group at Bet Shalom once it is safe to do so. We encourage you to try the support group and benefit from the helpfulness of others in the group. The meetings will be held outdoors as weather allows until we can safely move indoors. For more information or to get in contact with Ron and Judy, email us at tapestry@betshalom.org. The Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter 24/7 hotline is 1.800.272.3900 and their website is https://www.alz.org/mnnd. Consider attending this year’s “Keeping the Spirit Alive” caregiver conference being held virtually on May 2nd!

Barb Harris and Stan Herman gave their permission to have their story told in Tapestry.