UW Receives Grant to Enhance Dementia-Capable Care in Albany County

$866,453 in a three-year grant was recieved from the Administration for Community Living

Christine McKibbin, left, director of the Wyoming Center on Aging; Katelynn Bourassa, a recent UW psychology Ph.D. graduate; and Duane Cox, a study participant, observe a mock testing situation at the center. The Wyoming Center on Aging and the UW Department of Psychology recently received a grant to provide community-based services for people with dementia and their family caregivers in Albany County. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming recently received a grant to provide community-based services for people with dementia and their family caregivers in Albany County.

The UW Department of Psychology and the Wyoming Center on Aging received a $866,453, three-year grant from the Administration for Community Living to partner with local organizations to enhance dementia-capable care — the ability of organizations to meet the needs of people with dementia and their family caregivers.

“The goal for most people who have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia is to remain in their homes and communities,” says Robin Barry, the grant’s project director and an assistant professor in the UW Department of Psychology. “This funding will allow us to help make that a reality for more people in Albany County.”

Between 2000 and 2010, Wyoming experienced an influx in the number of aging adults, Barry says. The population of 50- to 59-year-olds grew 45.9 percent, while the population of those over the age of 60 years grew 32.7 percent.

“Aging is the No. 1 risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” Barry says. “With an aging population, a greater proportion of our population is going to be diagnosed with some form of dementia. Our communities need to be ready to meet the needs of people with dementia.”

The grant focuses on three main groups: people with dementia, especially those who live alone in the community; people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who may have dementia or be at high risk of developing dementia; and family caregivers who are assisting people with dementia or adults

“An exciting aspect of the project is the focus on partnering with the community and using programs that have been found to work,” Barry says. “All of the programs will be offered out of a new Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Center at the university.”

Barry and her project team will provide services for those with dementia who live alone, including connecting them with ongoing support. For those who are in the early stages of dementia, the team will provide a counseling program that is aimed at care planning and can help people with dementia and their family members deal with the stress of a diagnosis.

The project team will provide training and programming from the National Task Group on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Dementia Practices to health care providers, direct support providers and family caregivers to increase their knowledge and understanding of dementia for people with IDD. The team also will provide care consultation to family caregivers of adolescents and adults with IDD to screen for dementia, if needed, and link them with resources to reduce stress.

The team will offer two programs for family caregivers of people with dementia: Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral (TCARE) and Care Partners Reaching Out (CarePRO). TCARE assesses family caregivers’ needs with regard to their well-being and caregiving situation, and helps to connect them with the right community supports at the right time to reduce their stress and improve their own health. CarePRO is an educational and supportive group for family caregivers of people with dementia.

Additionally, the team will offer community and first responder educational training to help identify people in the community who may have dementia and to help connect them to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Center to receive support and referral for care.

Community partners that will collaborate on the grant include the Alzheimer’s Association, Wyoming Chapter; the Eppson Center for Seniors; Ark Regional Services; LIV Health; and the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities.

For more information, call Barry at (307) 223-5219 or email rbarry2@uwyo.edu; or call the Wyoming Center on Aging at (307) 766-2829 or email wycoa@uwyo.edu.