St. John’s Community Care Awarded $50,000 Grant from AgeSmart

Memory Cafés provide a comfortable environment where both caregivers and their loved ones can converse and participate in activities.

St. John’s Community Care in Collinsville, Ill., recently was awarded a $50,000 grant from AgeSmart, a Fallon, Ill.-based organization that administers grants to nonprofit organizations serving older adults, caregivers, and grandparents raising grandchildren in Southwest Illinois. The grant will be used to underwrite three of St. John’s programs.

“St. John’s Community Care is blessed to have $50,00 in grant support from AgeSmart Community Resources Area Agency on Aging to empower families living with dementia,” said Nancy Berry, MHA, executive director of St. John’s. This support “furthers our mission for improving the lives of families challenged by aging, disability, or caregiving.”

The mission of AgeSmart is to  enhance the lives of older adults, persons with disabilities, and veterans through advocacy, action, and answers on aging. The programs and services underwritten by grants allow older adults to remain independent in their homes and maintain the quality-of-life fitting to each individual.

“AgeSmart is so pleased to have St. John’s Community Care providing these valuable programs to caregivers of older adults. St. John’s is a valuable asset to the community,” said Joy Paeth, chief executive officer of AgeSmart community resources.

The grant will be used for these St. John’s programs:

The Saavy Caregiver is a six-week training course for family and friends of persons living with dementia.

Saavy Caregiver
Taking care of a person living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia at home is specialized work. Caregivers need special skills, knowledge, and a positive attitude that helps them to care for themselves. Savvy Caregiver training sessions aid family caregivers in this role. This six-week training for family and friends offers techniques and coping skills when caring for a loved one experiencing Alzheimer’s or related dementias.

Stress Busting
The impact of stress on a caregiver’s health and its relationship to the relationships between loved one and caregiver is significant. Stress busting helps caregivers deal with stress through relaxation techniques and problem solving. It also teaches them how to care for themselves while providing better care for their loved ones. St. John’s has found that caregivers who have completed this program feel significantly lower stress, depression, and anxiety and are able to enjoy a better quality of life. They also experience improvement in their ability to relax, manage stress and feel better about themselves.

Memory Cafés
When living with a person with dementia, it is sometimes difficult for a caregiver to get out and do simple things with their loved one — like going to dinner. Caregivers may be concerned about a loved one’s behavior or abilities and, therefore, just stay home. Memory Cafés provide a comfortable environment where caregivers and their loved ones can meet and participate in activities. They are designed to reduce the social isolation experienced by so many dementia caregivers.

The grant “enables us to teach Savvy Caregiver and Stress Busting classes to family caregivers without costs to them,” said Berry. “Both series use university-developed curricula which equip care partners to understand dementia while developing and implementing effective caregiving and self-care strategies.”

Additionally, “our five Memory Cafés … provide social outlets for individuals with early dementia and their care partners. This grant recognizes that social isolation has multiple negative impacts on everyone, but especially older people,” Berry said. “These gatherings — virtual or in person — are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy interacting with others.”

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