Sense of Community

Our ongoing, 10-part Community Journalism series airs quarterly

From poverty concerns to major policy decisions, this series dives beyond the headlines to provide in-depth coverage of issues facing people and organizations in the Ozarks. KSMU's team of reporters come together to produce 10 stories, four times a year. Past espisodes of our Sense of Community series are available below.

Pixabay / Used with permission

  A lot of doctors know from the beginning of their training what they want to focus on. For Dr. Curtis Schreiber, though, it was different. He trained in neurology at the Mayo Clinic, and he does practice as a general neurologist. When he started his practice, he found that taking care of people and families with cognitive disorders, like Alzheimer’s Disease, was really important.

Rural Patients With Dementia Face Unique Challenges

Jun 5, 2020
Flickr via Creative Commons

For this segment of our series, we’re taking you on the road to learn about the unique challenges facing our rural neighbors with dementia.

I pulled up to the senior center in Ava, Missouri, in Douglas County, and stepped inside.  Five men were playing pool. This was in early March, about a week before the new coronavirus swept through the Midwest.  

Pixabay / Used with permission


For this segment in our Sense of Community series, Dementia in the Ozarks, we’re looking at the shortage of geriatricians—and what that means for the aging population here in the Ozarks.

As Americans get older, they require more care from professionals to help manage medical issues, including dementia.  A geriatrician is a doctor who specializes in treating the health problems of elderly patients. 

In Missouri, the number of doctors trained to treat these patients is not growing at the same rate as the population of older adults.

ABA / The American Bar Association

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that this year alone, Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias will cost the United States $305 billion dollars. Those costs are primarily in health care, and they are projected to climb.

But there can be legal expenses, too. 

If there’s one thing experts agree on, it’s that it’s best to be prepared and know what’s available in your region.

So in this segment of our Sense of Community series, Dementia in the Ozarks, we’re looking at legal resources for lower-income and elderly residents with dementia.

Michele Skalicky

When a person becomes a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, they face new challenges in their lives—and some even find new joys.  And having others with similar experiences they can talk to can make a big difference.

That’s where Alzheimer’s support groups come in.  Since stay-at-home orders were declared in March, support groups offered by the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Missouri are meeting via virtual platforms or telephone.

BournemouthBC / Flickr


Willard resident, Shirley Fouraker, has been married to her husband, Bob, for nearly 60 years.  And last July, he was diagnosed with moderate dementia/Alzheimer’s.  She talked about her role as caregiver earlier this year.

“At the time it wasn’t that bad, but this last month it progressed really, really fast.  In fact, I went today to put his name on a waiting list at a nursing home,” said Fouraker.

Photo credit:

Mark Applegate works for the local SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging.  He writes a blog called "Digital Cornbread," which just passed its one-year anniversary online back in March, when we first started working on these KSMU "Sense of Community" stories.

In it, he chronicles the journey he, his sister, Pam Lavin, their stepfather, John Alexander, and their mother, Brenda, have taken since Brenda went into a nursing home in Republic because of advancing Alzheimer's Disease.

Photo by Steve Pearcy

In March, during one of the Alzheimer's Association's classes on Living with Memory Loss presented at The Library Center in Springfield, Deb Bryer from the  Alzheimer's Association St. Louis Chapter got the crowd in a jovial mood.

"I'm going to ask a question:   if you can answer 'yes' to the question, you get a 'kiss.'" As the attendees started laughing, she was quick to add, "It's a CHOCOLATE kiss! We're keeping it clean in here!"   

Public domain photo / Used with permission

Medical marijuana in Missouri was legalized in 2018 and medical marijuana cards have been approved for thousands of Missourians.  

Now, some Missourians wonder whether that could help patients with dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, particularly people who experience agitation and anxiety as the disease progresses.  

Dementia is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions involving memory loss. The stress from these changes can make a dementia patient feel agitated, anxious, and in some cases angry.

Horia Varlan /

Dementia, by definition according to the National Institutes of Health, is the loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning to the point that it interferes with a person’s daily activities.  Some types of dementia include Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and vascular dementia.  

All this week, at 7:45 AM and 4:44 PM, our Sense of Community series, Dementia in the Ozarks, is diving into this topic from a local perspective.

Steve Gray

KSMU’s Jessica Balisle’s brings us a special family recipe from her mother, Suzy Gray, with help from Jessica’s sister, Emily Gray. Knedlíky and zelí is a Bohemian dish of potato dumplings and sauerkraut. The recipe comes from Suzy’s parents, John and Mary Frances Ruzicka, and was passed on to them through many generations.

Bohemia is the westernmost region of the Czech Republic.

Suzy has done a little prep work before we begin – peeling and boiling potatoes until they’re soft.

Emily Gray

KSMU's Jess Balisle joins her dad, Steve Gray, in making his uncle Frank Galbraith’s waffles.

Galbraith was born in 1909 and was Gray’s mother’s older brother. When he passed away in the early 1980s, Gray was involved in dismantling the household. There, he found an old waffle iron. His cousin, Nancy Karoll, said he could have it.

(Photo: Randy Stewart)

Sarah Diouf, who recently joined the Corporate Support staff here at Ozarks Public Broadcasting, shared a very special recipe with us for our "Table Traditions" series.                                                                

(Photo: Randy Stewart)

You probably know Jeff Houghton as the host of "The Mystery Hour" TV talk show on the local Fox affiliate. He and his wife Michelle have two children, ages 2 and 7. When she and Jeff decided to contact KSMU to get in on our Sense of Community "Table Traditions" series, Michelle told us straightaway: "This may not be exactly what you're looking for, because it's pretty basic food as far as most people are concerned. But--we live and die by 'basic' food as parents with young children."                                                                                 

Joshua Conaway / KSMU

As part of our Sense of Community series, "Table Traditions," Ann Marie Baker shared a family recipe referred to as "cranberry relish."

This holiday recipe fits in a small white bowl, on a plate next to a stack of saltine crackers and slices of cheese. The sweetness of the dish mixes with a bright tartness.

“The cranberry relish recipe is a family favorite, and we’ve been having it at the holidays for as long as I can remember," Ann Marie Baker said. "My mother made it my grandmother made it, my great-grandmother made it, and it was always around.”