Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs (RIDEA) announces that it was one of 22 communities across the country that was awarded a highly competitive grant to continue the agency’s continued support of community-based services for older adults and their family caregivers. The $789,000 federal grant from the Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative by the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, enhances and maintains the existing network of care and support for Rhode Islanders living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias.
The grant comes at a good time. According to the 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report from the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 23,000 Rhode Islanders 65 years of age or older living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to increase over 17% by 2025. There are also 53,000 family caregivers living in Rhode Island, providing 61 million hours of unpaid care to their loved ones. The report also points to Alzheimer’s disease as the 5th leading cause of death in Rhode Island.
Creating a Better System of Supports
On September 26, 2018, the grant award was announced by RIDEA’s Acting Director, Michelle Szylin, at the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Executive Board meeting. “Rhode Island has the foundation necessary to bring about a dementia-capable system. This grant allows us to build upon that groundwork and create a system of supports that will follow patients and caregivers from diagnosis and referral all the way to long-term supports while living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias,” says Szylin,
Though the work with partner agencies, RIDEA’s grant funding will allow for the training of primary care practices providing care planning services to persons with cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease. This includes specific identification of a caregiver as well as an assessment of that caregiver’s knowledge, needs, and ability to provide care.
In addition, the federal grant allows RIDEA’s partner agencies to train direct services providers to enhance skills and supports in the areas of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. It also provides evidence-based programming to family caregivers and people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as provision of respite services so family caregivers can participate in such programming. Finally, the grant formalizes Rhode Island’s dementia-capable home- and community-based services system into the statewide Aging and Disability Resources Center.
“This funding will help ensure that Rhode Islanders living with Alzheimer’s, as well as their families and caregivers, receive the support they deserve,” said Secretary Eric J. Beane, of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “This disease is relentless and exacts a terrible toll on people’s lives. We must remain vigilant in our work with our partners to strengthen available services in the community and to provide families with the tools they need to care for their loved ones while the race continues to find a cure,” Beane says.
A Commitment to Helping Educate Caregivers and Persons with Dementia
Adds Donna M. McGowan, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Rhode Island Chapter, “Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are difficult to live with. It’s life-changing for the individual and for family and friends of the loved one.”
“Rhode Island’s commitment to helping educate caregivers and people living with dementia so they have the latest knowledge and tools for living with these diseases is crucial. Additionally, a person with dementia will have unique needs at different stages of the disease, and we need an adequately trained workforce that can address these needs as they arise,” says McGowan.
RIDEA’s key partners to implement the federal grant include: Alzheimer’s Association- Rhode Island Chapter; Catholic Social Services of Rhode Island; Center for Memory Health at Hebrew SeniorLife; Healthcentric Advisors; Rhode Island College; United Way or Rhode Island; and the University of Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center