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AHN Awarded Grant from Henry L. Hillman Foundation to Support New Program for Those Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers
AHN Program Brings Together Specialized Clinicians and Community-Based Organizations to Improve the Quality of Life for Patients Living with Dementia and Those Caring for Them
PITTSBURGH – Allegheny Health Network (AHN) has been named one of four recipients of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation “Healthy Aging Challenge” grant. This $500,000 award will support the establishment of a comprehensive program for persons living with dementia and their caregivers, known as the ‘AHN Aging Brain Care Program and Dementia Super Network.’ The program will leverage an evidence-based model which integrates specialized staff into primary care teams and addresses the stresses and hardships commonly held among family caregivers.
According to the CDC, approximately 5.8 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. By 2060, the number of Alzheimer’s disease cases is predicted to rise to an estimated 14 million people, with minority populations being affected the most.
Both persons living with dementia and their caregivers are significantly impacted by the disease as individuals become unable to care for and make decisions for themselves. Often unaware of available support services, caregivers tend to feel overwhelmed in their caretaking responsibilities – all while grieving the loss of the person they once knew. Compared with caregivers of people without dementia, twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial and physical difficulties, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The AHN Aging Brain Care Program and Dementia Super Network aims to deliver whole-person care to AHN patients who are in early stages of the disease, as well connect them and their caregivers with wraparound support services by closing the gap between medical providers and local resources. In addition to providing enhanced care levels and easier access to support, the program intends to reduce unnecessary utilization of high-cost health care services among this rapidly growing patient population including avoidable visits to emergency departments.
Within the first year, AHN will commission a multi-disciplinary team led by Lyn Weinberg, MD, geriatrician and director of the division of geriatrics within the AHN Primary Care Institute, and Angela Kypriotis, MSW, LCSW, manager of behavioral health and social services. The team will be comprised of geriatricians, neurologists, community health workers, a behavioral health consultant and a social worker; all of whom are well-versed in caring for individuals with dementia. Initially, the team will be based at two AHN primary care offices including AHN West Penn Medical Associates in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood and AHN Wexford Medical Practice in Cranberry Township.
For caregivers, the team will assemble a ‘Dementia Super Network’ of skilled professionals across the greater Pittsburgh region who can provide counseling, education, individualized care planning and assistance in navigating community services that best fit their needs. To help supply these services, the AHN team will work in partnership with Indiana University where this evidence-based care model was developed, as well as Doreen C. Putnam of DCPutnam Consulting, ElderCare Transitions, LLC and Presbyterian SeniorCare Network.
“The rapidly increasing number of individuals with new diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias poses significant challenges to patients, their families and the health care system at large,” said Dr. Weinberg. “This unique combination of expert care and support stands to dramatically enhance dementia-related care in southwestern Pennsylvania, providing patients with high-quality care while arming caregivers with the education, resources and support they need to manage the many complexities of this devastating disease.”
“This funding from Henry L. Hillman Foundation will help make a meaningful difference for families in our region by aiding them in complex decision-making, grief and loss, planning for the future, care coordination, skill-building and more,” said Allie Quick, chief philanthropy officer at AHN. “We thank them for their generous support of this critically important program.”
“The rise in the number of people living with dementia means that caregivers need specialized training and support more than ever,” said Lauri Fink, senior program officer of Henry L. Hillman Foundation. “The Healthy Aging Challenge was intended to inspire new models and ideas to improve the lives of older adults in our region. We’re heartened to see innovative projects emerge from the challenge that provide emotional support and tools for caregivers faced with the substantial challenges that accompany taking care of those living with this disease.”
The Healthy Aging Challenge was designed to improve the lives of older adults in southwestern Pennsylvania. For more information, visit https://www.healthyagingchallenge.org/.
To learn more about geriatric primary care at AHN, visit https://www.ahn.org/services/primary-care/specialties/geriatrics.