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      Memory unit in Ottumwa cares for Alzheimer's patients, families

      The Haven Memory Care Unit at Pennsylvania Place in Ottumwa cares for Alzheimer's patients and their families.

      Over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a progressive memory disease and the most common form of dementia. The only memory care unit with a certified director in Southeast Iowa is right here in Ottumwa, at the Haven Memory Care Unit at Pennsylvania Place.

      The Haven provides 16 personal apartments, three meals a day, an outside garden, activities and a staff trained to provide validation for patients and education for families.

      "Our goal here is to trigger the fond memories and their long-term memories," said Amanda Konrad, Haven's Dementia Manager. "We want to validate, live in their truth. We want to not correct them, we want to reassure them, let them know everything's going to be okay, we're here for them."

      The Haven's staff not only tends to patients, but their families as well, helping them get over common misconceptions.

      "It's education, the family really needs to be up on top of it and understand what the disease is and it's okay, because they don't remember," said Jamie Scherer, Assisted Living Manager. "The resident doesn't remember who their loved ones are and so we help them through that transition."

      There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but research continues, and events like Ottumwa's annual Walk to end Alzheimer's raises awareness. Places like the Haven are crucial to providing the proper care and attention to patients with Alzheimer's and the staff that work there are dedicated to and passionate about their jobs.

      "What we offer at the Haven is a comfort level for the family members to know that their loved ones are being taken care of," said Robin Craver, Interim Executive Director. "The staff at the Haven does a fabulous job with that."

      "I love nursing, I love the geriatric population," Scherer said. "I had a family member with Alzheimer's, so I know what families are dealing with and it's very difficult, so my goal is to help the family and educate the family and care for their loved one. Because I would treat their loved one just as my own."

      "I have been around the disease for several years, I've had family members with the disease, it's been very close," Konrad said. "I come every day in my career, I see it happening. I do support groups with the Alzheimer's Association, so I'm very close to family members and if I can help somebody get through the day and make them happy, make their lives better, that's why I'm here."

      For more information on Alzheimer's Disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association's website .