Federal grant to boost Virginia’s services for residents with dementia
The $441,131, three-year grant from the federal Administration for Community Living will allow the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services to implement a caregiver intervention program in the greater Charlottesville and Williamsburg areas. Department leaders hope to expand the program into other areas of the Commonwealth in the future.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease in Virginia could jump 46 percent, from 130,000 in 2014 to 190,000 in 2025. Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and as its population ages, Virginia must support sufficient training for care providers, first responders and family caregivers to adequately address this growing demand.
“Today’s population of older Virginians is expected to double by 2030, a trend that is likely to be accompanied by an increase in the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This grant represents a timely and significant opportunity for the Commonwealth to expand services to people with dementia and their families,” said Governor McAuliffe.
Dementia presents a significant challenge for family members who are thrust into the role of caregiver. In 2013, an estimated 447,000 family caregivers provided 509 million hours of care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in Virginia. The grant aims to help family or informal caregivers feel more confident in their role, increase satisfaction with their social and emotional support networks, reduce depression that can often hit caregivers, and help caregivers assess and comfortably respond to behaviors that can sometimes affect people with dementia.
Virginia is striving to address these intertwined issues. In response to the Dementia State Plan, the General Assembly created the position of state dementia services coordinator to review existing programs, identify gaps, reduce duplication and work with agencies to more effectively deliver services to Virginians with dementia.
“People with dementia and their caregivers don’t have to battle this cruel disease alone,” said Dr. William Hazel, Secretary of Health and Human Resources. “This grant will do much to reinforce social support networks and to offer crucial assistance to caregivers. The Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services is well prepared to make the most of this opportunity, thanks to the decision last year to hire a dementia services coordinator.”
Partnering with DARS’ Division for the Aging on the pilot program are the University of Virginia Memory and Aging Care Clinic; Jefferson Area Board for Aging; Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health; Peninsula Agency on Aging; and the Alzheimer’s Association Central and Western Virginia Chapter and Southeastern Virginia Chapter.