SHERIDAN — The Sheridan community will be one of 11 national recipients of a grant supporting projects for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers.
Through the work of the Sheridan Senior Center and its many partners, the center will receive $1.1 million over three years supporting the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Initiative. Of the total, more than $800,000 was awarded by the Administration on Aging/Administration on Community Living Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative grants. The rest is in-kind funding and a match from the Wyoming Community Foundation, Sheridan Senior Center Executive Director Carmen Rideout said at a press conference Tuesday night.
The goal of the project is “to expand and significantly strengthen Sheridan County’s dementia capability for individuals with dementia and their caregivers by improving awareness, early diagnosis and access to services and improved quality of life,” center officials said in a press release.
The project has three objectives: education and awareness; health care and support; and ongoing support and navigation.
Director of Dementia Friendly Wyoming Kay Wallick said that as the “heart” of the project, education and awareness has been in the works for the past year. The goal is to spread awareness to at least 1,000 people in the next three years, and already having 300 under its belt, Wallick said she thinks the center will hit the goal quickly.
They’re also going to work with Dementia Friendly America to distribute a survey that will include every sector of the community, including ones that may have been missed in previous studies administered. Additionally, the project will initiate gatekeeper training for people with public service jobs, especially ones who are brought to rural areas, to help them identify signs of dementia.
When it comes to the second objective, health care and support, the project will bring in training for health care providers and social service industry employees to ensure better screening and diagnosis processes. The project is already working on kiosks with educational materials on dementia that will be placed in medical offices.
“I think often health care providers may be a little hesitant about diagnosing because there really is no cure,” Wallick said.
The third objective, support and navigation, will work to solve the problem of what to do after diagnosis. The project will create a Dementia Support Center to serve at least 500 people. With this, the center hopes to also create Volunteer Coaches — a program that supplies training to caregivers.
The program’s Dementia Educator, Heather Comstock, said behavioral management training will be used to train caregivers in the physical and emotional methods of caring for a person with dementia. Comstock and three others will be education ambassadors to learn leading dementia educator Teepa Snow’s “Positive Approach,” and bring that knowledge back to Sheridan.
The Validation Method of training, which is a holistic approach to care, will educate caregivers on how to connect and communicate on an emotional level and will be taught to individuals directly in Sheridan.
“The reason why this is a win is because this is a direct service to anybody who is working with or caring for someone who has dementia,” Comstock said. “This is a pretty amazing skill set to be able to share.”
The ultimate goal is to have Sheridan be the hub of dementia knowledge and to work with the state to spread that knowledge throughout Wyoming.
“It’s all about everybody up and down Main Street,” Wallick said. “If we have a community that’s welcoming to dementia, we’ll be welcoming to everybody.”