Individuals with Dementia and their Caregivers Benefit
Jefferson Elder Care (JEC) received a Pew Fund Grant for $150,000 to provide dementia services to families in the Delaware Valley. “With these funds, we can work with a large number of underserved elders and their caregivers,” shares Catherine V. Piersol, MS, OTR/L, JEC Clinical Director. “Our goal always has been to help improve the daily lives of both people with dementia and their caregivers, and these funds will assist in bridging the gap between each family’s needs and their ability to access services.”
Piersol explains that almost half of the referrals JEC receives for dementia services are not eligible due to insurance coverage and income level. The Pew funding will allow JEC to serve an additional 140 clients and their caregivers over the next three years.
JEC Dementia Services focus on both the individual with dementia and their caregiver. An occupational therapist visits the home and evaluates the individual with dementia and develops a customized, comprehensive occupational therapy plan of care to improve the individual’s daily function and safety.
Within the dementia service, caregivers participate in JEC’s Skills2Care™ program which helps them manage the daily care of the individual and the behavioral manifestations of dementia. This program helps caregivers reduce stress and increase confidence in handling daily challenges. These benefits combined lead to a reduction in the dementia-related behaviors that often trigger nursing home placement.
Physicians understand the impact that this program can have on patients, their families, and society at large. Mijail “Misha” Serruya, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology at Thomas Jefferson University, refers many of his patients to JEC. He says that having an occupational therapist visit patients’ homes “saves society money by keeping them functioning well in the community rather than being hospitalized or institutionalized, [and] it also fulfills our vocational oath to help our patients in whatever way we can.”
The JEC Dementia Service Program will be piloted with clients from the Family Caregiver Support Program, part of Senior Community Services in Delaware County. After the first year, JEC will build partnerships with other Area Agencies on Aging in southeastern Pennsylvania.