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Alzheimer’s Caregiver Initiative Receives National Recognition

memory cafe

The SUNY Plattsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative was nationally recognized for the services provided in northern New York.

The initiative, which provides free support services to caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, is cited as a 2020 Rising Star by the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center, one of only five nationwide to receive this distinction.

richard durant“We were elated to receive such a distinguished award and feel it is significant validation of the hard work we put into the program,” said Dr. Richard Durant, director of the initiative and of the neuropsychology clinic and psychoeducational services housed in the Center for Neurobehavioral Health in Sibley Hall. The associate professor of clinical neuropsychology said they were also proud “and honored to provide this service to dementia caregivers in Northeastern New York.”

“Our services support caregivers no matter where they are in their journey,” he said. “It is important that caregivers know they are not alone and that resources are available to them as they navigate the obstacles of caregiving.”

Virtual Support During COVID

Those resources include the monthly Memory Cafés, support groups, educational training and respite services as well as educational materials all provided free of charge to caregivers. When COVID put a stop to in-person gatherings and services, the Caregiver Support Initiative continued remotely, providing virtual services that include webinars and discussion groups.

“Care consultations, support groups, educational programs, memory cafes and caregiver conferences are still being delivered virtually,” Durant said. “While our respite program saw a decrease in participation, we were able to gain approval from the state Department of Health to fund more pragmatic services under the respite program to include household cleaning and shopping.”

The Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative seeks to alleviate the emotional and financial burdens that are unduly placed on New Yorkers who care for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, Durant said. With 1 million “informal caregivers” providing more than one billion hours of unpaid care, the initiative provided services to more than 2,000 caregivers in the North Country since 2016.

Supports Caregivers in Six Counties

“This includes caregivers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties,” Durant said. “We developed and implemented programs that show that these services are vital to reducing caregiver stress and health risks while also improving the quality of live for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.”

The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource works to assist and promote the development of quality respite and crisis care programs in the United States, to help families locate respite and crisis care services in their communities and to serve as a voice for respite in all forms.

“Dr. Durant and his staff have done a wonderful job in serving the North Country community these past several years through the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative,” said Dr. Michael Morales, interim director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Health. “This is a well-deserved recognition.”

‘Team Effort’

In addition to the Department of Health, the college and SUNY Research Foundation. Durant was also quick to point to the support of the Sibley Hall team.

“This is definitely a team effort,” he said. “Thanks go to Valarie Drown, project co-director, Kimberly Comisky, regional respite coordinator, and Lee Vera, respite administrative assistant, for the countless hours of problem-solving, planning and implementation of the respite program. As a whole, the initiative has been a very successful program and the entire staff has been integral in making each component work. I am grateful for them all.”

For more information on the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative, its programs and services, visit www.wehelpcaregivers.com or call the Caregiver Telephone Support Line at 800-388-0199.

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