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Home Sweet Home: IDoA Issues Grant to Help Keep Alzheimer's Patients in Homes Longer

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People living with Alzheimer’s disease may be able to stay in their homes longer, thanks to a three-year, $701,994 grant to Southern Illinois University Medicine’s Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (CADRD). “Giving patients and caregivers the support and resources they need means patients are less likely to end up in costly assisted living or elder care facilities,” said Tom Ala, MD, interim director of the CADRD in Springfield. Elder care facilities cost nearly eight times more than home health or adult day services.

The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) grant will help SIU develop and pilot new person-centered, supportive services for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their caregivers, including:

  • Stepping Up, a falls-prevention exercise and dance class
  • Savvy Caregiver, an evidence-based, 6-week class for caregivers of people with dementia who are still living at home
  • TimeSlips, a program that uses storytelling, creativity and meaningful connection to improve wellbeing
  • Opening Minds Through Art (OMA), an evidence-based, intergenerational art-making program that provides opportunities for creative self-expression and social engagement for people with dementia
  • Music and Memory Program, which uses mp3 players and the proven therapeutic use of music to lift spirits and trigger pleasant memories

Thanks to the grant, the CADRD can expand its Music and Memory and Savvy Caregiver programs, which the center began in 2015, as well as add the new services to the center’s Memory and Aging Network sites throughout Illinois. Sites include Alton Memorial Hospital, Circle of Friends Adult Day Care in Champaign, Prairieview Lutheran in Danforth, Heartland Human Services in Effingham, Montgomery County Health Department in Hillsboro, McDonough District Hospital in Macomb, St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Inc. in Mount Vernon, Community Resource & Counseling Center in Paxton, OSF Senior World in Peoria and Evenglow Lodge/Inn in Pontiac.

The IDoA awarded the contracts after receiving a grant from the Administration for Community Living, a Department of Health and Human Services organization dedicated to providing support to Americans with disabilities and older adults. The grant will expire in September 2019.

Eliminating service gaps
In partnership with the Illinois Alzheimer’s Association and the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly, organizations that also received IDoA funding, the CADRD aims to eliminate service gaps throughout central and south-central Illinois. As part of that goal, the Alzheimer’s Association plans to develop a care-navigation system and will also offer Savvy Caregiver classes.

“Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is overwhelming,” said Greg Kyrouac, director of education and outreach programs at the CADRD. “Program like Music and Memory can help manage Alzheimer’s patients’ symptoms by easing anxiety and agitation, encouraging communication and stimulating memories.” Studies have found that institutionalized dementia patients are twice to three times as likely to die following elder care placement as those who stay home.

The grant will allow the CADRD to train professionals to identify and refer individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who are living alone via webinars.

“People in the early stages of dementia can live at home,” said Jeffrey Bennett, MD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at SIU Medicine. “But it’s important we consider their safety, nutrition and overall wellbeing and provide them with the appropriate resources.” Bennett will provide webinar training to those who work with individuals who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Cindy Womack, DNP, and Kyrouac will provide additional training on living alone with Alzheimer’s disease.

The three-year grant is one of several initiatives underway at SIU Medicine. Despite ongoing budgetary issues, the CADRD has expanded its programming to replicate Minds in Motion, a non-pharmacological intervention originally developed in Champaign, in Springfield through a grant from Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln King’s Daughters Organization Blackstock Fund. The Memorial Medical Center Foundation will also fund a two-day educational conference for health care providers and community members in the fall. SIU Medicine has also formed a steering committee to develop future fundraising initiatives in the hopes of making the CADRD a self-sustaining entity. To support the CADRD, visit and select the Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders.

Since 1987, the CADRD has diagnosed, treated and educated Illinois residents with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related problems. In the last year, the center, along with its Memory and Aging Network, served more than 2,400 patients and their families. Its four-fold mission is to evaluate and treat patients, conduct innovative research, educate the public and health care providers in rural Illinois and maintain a network of 32 memory and aging sites throughout northern, central and southern Illinois.

Established in 1970, the mission of SIU Medicine is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health needs through education, patient care, research and service to the community.


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Lauren Murphy


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