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Virginia awarded $900,000 to expand wellness for older people

Staff Writer | July 22, 2016
Virginia’s wellness program that helps older Virginians with chronic diseases has won a $900,000 grant to expand across the Commonwealth and include individuals with dementia and their caregivers.
Virginia older
Caregivers   The program has helped more than 10,000 Virginians
The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services already offers free “You Can! Live Well, Virginia!” workshops focused on chronic disease self-management through some Area Agencies on Aging.

The two-year grant from the federal Administration for Community Living will allow DARS to expand the program to all 25 Virginia olders, reaching almost 2,500 participants.

For the six years the program has existed, it has helped more than 10,000 Virginians learn to better manage their health issues.

The grant begins August 1, 2016. DARS will partner with the Alzheimer’s Association chapters in Virginia to establish a statewide referral system to extend this effort to about 360 individuals with early-stage dementia and their caregivers, and to provide training on dementia to those who lead the workshops at the local level.

“You Can! Live Well, Virginia!” is based on an evidence-based initiative developed by Stanford University. Over the course of six weeks, trained volunteers lead free workshops to help participants with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease, learn to manage their conditions.

“Nearly 1.5 million Virginians are age 60 or older,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. “By 2030, one in four Virginians will be over 60. We need to be ready to meet the challenges and opportunities this will put on our communities and our health care system. Training more people on how to care for those with dementia is one way of doing that.”

One in nine Americans age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease, and three-quarters of their caregivers report they are concerned about maintaining their own health, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.