EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) — Perhaps the most telling aspect of Thursday's open house for the Forget-Me-Not Center at the Effingham Public Library was the fact that very few people on hand to gather information were willing to talk publicly.
That's what Shannon Nosbisch and Amy Sobrino want to change. The mother and daughter team have formed the Effingham Area Alzheimer's Awareness group with one goal: to erase the stigma associated with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Linus Nosbisch, brother-in-law and uncle of the founders, said that stigma can be a stumbling block to getting help for a loved one.
"The biggest thing is that there's a lot of stigma that goes with Alzheimer's," Linus Nosbisch said.
The Nosbisch family, who farms southeast of Teutopolis, got a front row seat to Alzheimer's when Anna Mae Nosbisch, Linus' mother, was diagnosed. Sobrino, daughter of Shannon and Linus' brother, Ken Nosbisch, was 9 years old when her grandmother was diagnosed.
"I grew up with the disease and how it affected my family," Sobrino said. "That's why I went into social work."
Sobrino, a 2010 graduate of Teutopolis High School who has a master's degree in social work from Saint Louis University, works for the Missouri Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, but is still able to help her mother from time to time.
Shannon Nosbisch said the primary purpose of her organization — and the Forget-Me-Not Center — is to support people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.
"We know it's a struggle," she said. "We want to give people all the educational help we can."
The Forget-Me-Not Center is a portion of the library devoted to books and other materials related to dementia and allied issues. It is located on the library's second floor in the stacks on the south side of the building.
Johnna Schultz, the library's adult services manager, said the center is an opportunity to partner with a local organization in support of Alzheimer's patients and caregivers.
"Amy (Sobrino) approached me about 18 months ago with her vision and I said, 'Let's make this happen.'
"I don't have any personal experience with these issues, but I have empathy for those who are dealing with this."
Effingham Mayor Jeff Bloemker, who signed a proclamation honoring the effort, said the center's opening was a critical step in dealing with an issue that he believes will become more and more prevalent in the near future.
"We all know that the senior tsunami is headed our way," Bloemker said. "To have resources of this nature and people with this kind of passion in our city can help us prepare for this."