Secretary Bigby Tours Innovative Alzheimer's Program at Soldiers' Home in Holyoke
Visit includes discussion of innovative ways to combat Alzheimer’s; meeting with recent Governor’s Carballo Award winner
HOLYOKE — Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. JudyAnn Bigby today toured an innovative Alzheimer’s program at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke on to discuss innovative ways that the Home, in partnership with Alzheimer’s Association, is helping veterans and their families cope with Alzheimer’s disease.
Secretary Bigby was joined Superintendent Paul Barabani, representatives of the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts-New Hampshire and residents of the Soldiers Home.
“In Massachusetts alone there are 120,000 seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and many of those seniors are veterans,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. “I’m delighted to be here today to hear about some of the innovative ways the Home and the Alzheimer’s Association are working together to address this persistent problem. This collaboration is an important resource for veterans living at the home and their families coping with the effects of the disease.”
The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and the Alzheimer’s Association have been working together on recommendations contained within the Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders State Plan Recommendations since February, when the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts/New Hampshire released the plan.
“For too long, veterans and their families have suffered in silence; undiagnosed, or not knowing where to turn for help,” said Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Superintendent Paul Barabani. ”We are now ready,
in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, to provide important links between diagnosed veterans living in the community and the services they need.”
“The Alzheimer’s Association and the Soldiers’ Home are working together to design a comprehensive program that addresses the needs of each veteran and his/her family,” said Marcia McKenzie, M.Ed., the Alzheimer’s Association’s director of diversity initiatives for the Western Massachusetts region.
The program includes early detection, education workshops, care consultation and support groups. We are proud that while the program targets Veterans, the public is also invited to attend education workshops or other community events happening on the campus of the Soldiers Home.
Collaborating with the Springfield Office of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke is working on implementing the following actions to help veterans and their families cope with Alzheimer’s onset and/or diagnosis:
- A Screening Program for Dementia has been instituted in the Outpatient Department at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, to facilitate early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
- The Alzheimer’s Association conducts individual counseling and referrals for services at the Soldiers’ Home; as well as educational workshops for Veterans, family members, and the community at-large.
- A family Support Group has been formed to assist family members of Veterans in the advanced stages of the disease. The focus of the group is to assist family members managing their feelings and helping them plan for the future.
- Soldiers’ Home staff has been participating in a variety of educational opportunities to enhance their knowledge of Alzheimer’s related behaviors and appropriate interventions.
- Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association, will host a community outreach/education program at the Soldiers’ Home on Tuesday, July 31 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Secretary Bigby also recognized Home staff members who have been honored as part of the state’s Pride and Performance Program. The recognized staff includes the recipient of the 2012 Manual Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service, Lee Anne St. Martin, director of operations at the Soldiers’ Home. Secretary Bigby also met Soldiers’ Home nurse Cynthia Dziadzio and the Home’s recreation department team: Margaret Feyre, Katie Carrier, Wendy Chevalier, Ellen Couture, Kathy Gardner, Michele Hall, Sarah Michel, Maura Morrissey, Jim Paulin and Holly Rainaud.
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