MaineHealth, the state’s largest integrated healthcare delivery system, has been awarded $957,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living (ACL) to strengthen training and services for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) and their caregivers. The three-year grant is one of just 11 awarded nationally by ACL.
One in 10 people nationwide is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and in Maine – the oldest and most rural state in the nation – the number of individuals living with the disease and related dementias will rise to over 53,000 by 2020 as the first wave of Maine’s baby boomers reaches the age of greatest risk. An estimated 230,000 Maine caregivers are providing critical support for aging and disabled family members, including those with ADRD, and many caregivers are themselves aging and employed full-time. Maine’s long-term care system is also feeling the impact, with an estimated 80 percent of nursing home residents having dementia or impaired decision-making.
The MaineHealth Alzheimer’s Disease Partnership will address these challenges by more closely integrating primary care providers and community services programs serving ADRD across two regions – rural Lincoln County and Greater Portland. Primary care teams in the MaineHealth system will receive training to more easily identify patients and caregivers in need of supportive services. The project will also enhance referral protocols and expand the existing system of dementia care services offered by its partners.
Dr. Heidi Wierman, Medical Director for Healthy Aging for the MaineHealth system and Division Director for Geriatrics at Maine Medical Center, said, “Building on the strong system and community partnerships and great work related to dementia already occurring in Maine, this grant expands the reach of the critical work identifying those individuals with dementia and improving their access to assistance. As important, it focuses on support for caregivers in our communities who often juggle children, work and their own health issues in addition to having a loved one or friend with dementia.”
The project builds on a successful 20-year partnership with the Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging (SMAA). In addition to SMAA, MaineHealth’s system and partner agencies include Maine Medical Center Geriatrics Center; MMC Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE); MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization; Maine Behavioral Healthcare; Miles and St. Andrews Home Health & Hospice (LincolnHealth); Alzheimer’s Association of Maine; Community Paramedicine; Spectrum Generations Central Area Agency on Aging; and the University of Southern Maine.
SMAA Chief Executive Officer Larry Gross added, “This award helps us build upon the strong
foundation of the expiring ACL grant targeted at York County, and enables us to expand the reach of critical training and dementia care services into Greater Portland and Lincoln County, where the need is significant and growing.”
MaineHealth is a nationally recognized provider of healthcare training services. Its Partnership for Healthy Aging is the national administrator for A Matter of Balance, a top-tier evidence-based falls prevention program.
“There are approximately 27,000 people in Maine living with Alzheimer’s Disease today, and that number will continue to rise as the state’s population ages,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King. “That’s why the work of organizations like MaineHealth is so vital. By investing in an infrastructure of caregivers and building partnerships between different facets of our health care system, our state will be able to provide quality care to dementia patients and improve outcomes for Mainers. We’re grateful for MaineHealth’s work in this field and look forward to working alongside them while continuing to champion investments for research that can cure this devastating disease.”
“It is a reflection on the outstanding personnel at MaineHealth that they were selected to receive this nearly $1 million grant to strengthen coordination of care for Alzheimer’s Disease patients in Maine,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be overwhelming. This federal investment will help develop resources for providers and community organizations so that patients and their families can focus on what’s most important."
“I’m extremely pleased with the news of this important support for MaineHealth and their efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease, an absolutely devastating condition facing so many of our elderly population in Maine,” said Congressman Bruce Poliquin. “I’m hopeful this support will allow MaineHealth to strengthen their collaborative and far-reaching mission to care for those who suffer from this terrible disease and continue research in finding treatments.”
By providing evidence-based care through the project partners; training caregivers and service providers; and documenting lessons learned, the MaineHealth Alzheimer’s Disease Partnership will improve patient, caregiver, and healthcare outcomes, and lay the groundwork for replication elsewhere in Maine.
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