A grant from the Bureau of Senior Services is expected to help the Wyoming County Council on Aging provide improved dementia-capable service.
The grant for up to $10,000 was one of seven awarded recently in Charleston by the bureau.
Jennifer Gibson, executive director of the Council on Aging, says the funds will be used in several ways.
“We will be sending out some surveys to the community to find out how dementia-capable Wyoming County is,” she commented.
“We hope to havce some community meetings based on the surveys and decide what kind of education our community needs.”
There will also be training on what Gibson called “the savvy care giver—care givers of people with some type of dementia. We’ve have had that type of training in Wyoming County before.
“We also want to tie in some direct service where we provide service to people with dementia,” she remaked.
She also has plans for an awareness campaign which will involved the county high schools and Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
“Sometimes people don’t know how to handle people with dementia,” said Gibson. “We want to help them better understand what (persons with dementia) are really going through.”
She explained that dementia “affects your brain. Some have slight memory loss, and some have behaviorial changes. They may be mild-mannered but with dementia they may become more aggressive.”
Confusion may also be evident.
“They may know how to use an ATM, but all of a sudden they can’t remember,” Gibson said. “Sometimes, if you remind them, the brain starts processing it again.”
In applying for the grant, Gibson reported, “we came up with the education classes, awareness campaigns and direct services. They were excited and thought it would be great.”
She said the WCCOA will be “working with the Bureau of Senior Services and the West Virginia Alzheimer’s Association.
WVU and Quality Insights will help with the surveys.
The surveys will go out within the next month, Gibson reported.
Educational classes will take place during the summer, and the awareness campaign with schools is slated for late summer.
“It’s going to be interesting,” said Gibson. “We haven’t done anything exactly like this.
“We definitely want to get the community involved and hear what they have to say,” she observed. “The Bureau of Senior Services will want to know if we made a difference in the community.”
On a different topic, Gibson said the budgets under consideration by the Legislature did not cut services such as meals and transportation.
“I tried to educate our representatives to let them know how important senior services are to Wyoming County,” she commented.
In addititon to the COA, grant recipients from the Bureau of Senior Services included the Bluefield State College Nursing Program, Davis Medical Center of Elkins, McDowell County Commission on Aging, Monroe County Council on Aging, Palliative Care Center of Charleston and Preston County Senior Citizens.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.