Elder Services Receives Federal Grant to Provide Expanded Dementia-Related Training

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore CEO Joan Hatem Roy. (Courtesy photograph.)

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore was one of only a dozen organizations in the country—and the only one in the Commonwealth—to recently receive a new Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative grant from the federal Administration for Community Living.

Elder Services was awarded $854,147 over a three-year project period. With more than 138,000 older adults in Massachusetts with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias, the agency said need for trained caregivers has never been greater.

“This funding will help us expand our programs as well as start new training initiatives, including one for the caregivers of those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, a population that is more at risk for Alzheimer’s and related dementias,” said Elder Services Chief Executive Officer Joan Hatem-Roy.

The agency will start a training program at Bridgewell and Fidelity House Human Services and Career Resources Corp. for staff who work adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Additionally, Elder Services will train its information and referral employees and Meals on Wheels drivers on recognizing behaviors related to dementia to connect individuals with appropriate services.

Hatem-Roy explained a Meals on Wheels driver may be the only contact an isolated adult has on a regular basis, and now those drivers will have a better awareness of and know what to do if they notice different behaviors from those consumers.

The grant money will also help expand the Savvy Caregiver program, which is operated through the agency’s Healthy Living Center of Excellence, which provides evidence-based workshops and training services across the state.

Savvy Caregiver is a six-week training program for those who care for someone with Alzheimer’s or related dementias. Since 2017, more than 1,500 caregivers have been through this training, said Hatem-Roy.

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