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Ann Arbor Miller, Published February 09 2009

In View: Morning Out

Mary Ellen Ward knew something wasn’t right.

Her husband, George, rarely came home during the workday.

But there he was, and asking for directions to the Tractor Supply Co. no less. He’d been to the Moorhead business dozens and dozens of times.

“I know I should know, but I don’t know how to get to TSC,” George told his wife of 50-plus years.

His confusion was an early indication of Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors later confirmed the diagnosis.

George, a World War II veteran and retired railroad man, does “amazingly well” and still recognizes his grandkids.

However, with each passing year his memory and abilities decline a little more.

It’s been hard, but necessary, to accept help, said Mary Ellen, who cares for George, 82, in the couple’s Moorhead home.

Several months ago, Mary Ellen decided to try “Morning Out,” a weekly program offered by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota for eligible individuals with early to midstage Alzheimer’s.

Most Mondays, George spends four hours in Larsen Lounge at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in north Moorhead. Volunteers such as Kathy Altobell, pictured above with George, guide participants through simple craft projects, card games and other activities.

Whether running errands, shopping for a new coat or quilting at home, Mary Ellen says she values her time off duty.

“I know I’ll be happier and in a better mood because we’ve had a little break,” she said. “It’s good for him, too.”

How to get involved: Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is seeking participants for a weekly program called “Morning Out.” The program is open to eligible individuals with early to midstage Alzheimer’s disease. Volunteers are also needed. For more information, contact Tara Giese at (218) 233-7521 or tara.giese@lssmn.org.

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