Virginia Awarded $900,000 to Expand Wellness Program

Governor McAuliffe announced 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.

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 AAAs, 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.

“More than 85 percent of older adults live with at least one chronic condition and more than 60 percent have at least two. Expenditures for chronic diseases consume 86 percent of all health care spending,” said Governor McAuliffe. “If we can help older adults manage their symptoms better and communicate better with their doctors, family members and caretakers, they will not only feel better, they may spend less time in the hospital.”

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.

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.

“The Alzheimer’s Association believes chronic disease self-management education has the potential to greatly benefit the individuals we serve,” said Marie Kolendo, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter. “The program will benefit both individuals with early stage dementia by encouraging them to focus on their overall health and caregivers who will learn to focus on taking care of themselves earlier in the disease progression.”

“Older Virginians, Virginians with dementia as well as their caregivers, and persons with disabilities are more likely to have chronic ailments. These workshops can provide tools for individuals to better manage their chronic health conditions, which can improve their chance to remain independent and engaged in life,” said DARS Commissioner Jim Rothrock.

With grant support from Lutheran Community Services Impact Grants, “You Can! Live Well, Virginia!” has been presented in formats focusing on older adults with diabetes and those with chronic disease by the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging.  These new grant funds will provide the resources to conduct 10 additional workshops located in Warren, Shenandoah and Page Counties.  At least 4 of those workshops will be geared to persons with early dementia and their caregivers.

Cathie Galvin, SAAA Executive Director, stated, “We are so pleased that this $26,950 in funding over the next two years will help SAAA expand its workshops to help caregivers and persons diagnosed with dementia.”

For information about upcoming workshops or information about becoming a workshop leader contact Charity Michael at (540) 551-5696.