A grant by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) targets Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia, with the goal to keep individuals 60 years and older at home who have dementia-related conditions. The Customized Caregiver Training & Relief Program (CCTRP) offers caregivers free care consultations, customized in-home care assessments and training, tools to reduce stress, improve communication, make home safety improvements, and cost reimbursements up to $700 for qualified respite-related expenses. CCTRP incorporates two tracks – Caregiver Training Program and Caregiver Relief Program.

The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter, Memory Care Home Solutions (MCHS), and the Missouri Rural Health Association (MRHA) have partnered to deliver this program to Missourians caring for loved ones with dementia-related conditions. This partnership is particularly crucial as an estimated 130,000 Missourians are expected to have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia-related conditions by 2025.

“We understand how important community outreach and education will play in getting families connected to this program,” said MRHA Executive Director Melissa Van Dyne. “Many caregivers – and their families – serve in the trenches, daily, caring for loved ones with dementia. Our goal is to acquaint them with this program that is designed to address many of the day-to-day challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.”

Caregiver Training Program delivered by Memory Care Home Solutions

Enrollment begins with a pre-screening call with a MCHS intake specialist, 314.645.6247. Training includes:

  • In-home assessments for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias to identify unmet needs and develop a customized training plan for the caregiver.
  • Training materials and other resources to help modify activities of daily living (ADLs) in a manner that promotes increased independence for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • Follow-up calls and visits to assess the customized plan, recommend plan adjustments as needed, and provide additional resources if necessary.
  • Assistive safety devices, when necessary, to help with ADLs and increase the safety and well-being of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • Referrals to other community support services and resources as needed.

MCHS Grant Manager Candace Schwartzkopf said most caregivers who participate in the training experienced positive, impactful results. According to the data, 80% of caregivers report decreases in stress, 70% improve their ability to understand and manage day-to-day caregiving, 65% of families implement a new dementia care strategy or resource that increases their confidence and dedication, and 75% of individuals with dementia [remain] at home.

“The Memory Care Home Solutions training program helps caregivers understand dementia behaviors and implement meaningful activities to support an individual with cognitive impairment,” Schwartzkopf said. “It also improves quality of life for families and individuals with dementia, while enabling your loved one to stay home longer and safely.”

Caregiver Relief Program

The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter delivers the Caregiver Relief Program to help caregivers navigate the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia. Their Care Consultations takes a whole-person, whole-family approach to creating a customized, comprehensive needs assessment. The result is an individualized action plan to address unmet needs and link caregivers with a cadre of resources and community support.

The Caregiver Relief Program also reimburses caregivers up to $700 for the following respite-related services:

  • Assessments and care coordination
  • Adult day care
  • In-home Care
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Safety and supportive programs
  • Education programs
  • Counseling services

“Through the Caregiver Relief Program, caregivers receive a comprehensive needs assessment and work one-on-one with a Care Consultant at the Alzheimer’s Association to develop an action plan that specifically addresses how to get a break,” said Client Services Manager Ben Molina. “Through this program, families access a variety of services coupled with financial support through reimbursements that offer much needed relief.”

Eligibility Requirements for the Caregiver Relief Program

  • The individual with Alzheimer’s or related dementia must reside in Missouri and live at home with the primary caregiver. Persons residing in long-term care communities are ineligible.
  • Participants must start using funds within 45 days of enrollment and must use all available funds before May 31, 2021. Funds are capped at $700, are contingent upon availability, and distributed on a first come, first served basis.

Enrollment in the Caregiver Relief Program begins with a call to the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) to set up a free Care Consultation.

Dementia-related diseases require a village approach to care

Dementia is an umbrella term that consists of any condition marked by the development of multiple cognitive deficits. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease of unknown cause, and it is the most common form of dementia. The disease might begin in late middle age or during old age, and is marked by progressive memory loss, impaired thinking, disorientation, and drastic changes in personality or mood.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 13.8 million people over the age of 65 are projected to have Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050. As of 2020, 5.8 million people aged 65 and older currently live with dementia and 83% of their caregivers are also family members or friends. Of that 83%, one-third of these caregivers are elderly themselves, and 25% of them care for minors in addition to caring for the person with dementia.

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is a team effort. In the early stages of dementia, most people can still function independently and might be able to do so for several years. However, as the disease progresses, the need for support is greater.

During the middle stage of dementia, brain damage that the disease has caused makes it harder for the person affected to express thoughts and perform routine tasks. The individual might need help with getting dressed and maintaining hygiene. Additionally, the individual might experience erratic moods, changes in their usual behavior, and difficulty communicating.

At this stage, arranging transportation becomes necessary as the affected person will no longer be fit to drive. Being left alone is also dangerous for people in the middle stages of dementia, and both caregiver and patient will have to adapt specific routines and adhere to daily structure.

In late-stage dementia, intensive and around-the-clock care is necessary. A person in the late stages of dementia often has difficulty eating and swallowing, walking, maintaining personal care, and is vulnerable to serious infections (particularly pneumonia). At this stage of the disease, the primary function of the caregiver is to preserve the individual’s quality of life and dignity to the best of their ability. Although a person with late-stage dementia might lose their ability to express themselves and their needs, the core of their personhood usually remains.

You are not alone. Help is available.

CCTRP is meant to help affected individuals cope with the various changes that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia brings about. It is also meant to help caregivers provide the best quality of life possible for their loved ones, while reducing the burden of emotional turmoil and financial costs. To learn more about the program, contact MRHA at 573.616.2720 or visit MRHAssociation.org.