Thrive Alliance Expands Dementia Care Offerings

Tiffany Gorski-Kimrey has been named the Dementia Care Coach for Thrive Alliance. She began in the newly created position on January 6, 2021 and has been with Thrive Alliance since 2019. Her background includes work in Care Management with the Aging and Disability Resource Center. She also served in the military for six years.

As a Dementia Care Coach, she will interact directly with individuals receiving Thrive Alliance services who have dementia, and their caregivers, to implement the optimum plan of care for those individuals. “My goal in this new position is to provide much needed support for both the caregiver and the individual affected by dementia,” stated Gorski-Kimrey.

One in nine people over 65 years of age have dementia, and about one-half of people over the age of 85 have some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. In response to this escalating statistic, Thrive Alliance is taking the lead in our area to address the growing needs of those with dementia and their caregivers. Over the past two years, Thrive Alliance has established a number of programs focusing on dementia.

The creation of the Dementia Care Coach position supports several other dementia-related programs Thrive Alliance has recently implemented. These programs are highlighted below.

Dementia Care Intervention Program

In partnership with Indiana University and three other Area Agencies on Aging, and with support from Brown County Community Foundation, Thrive Alliance has implemented a dementia intervention program offering the following:

  • Conducting Caregiving Counseling, Education and Referral
  • Developing a Crisis Plan
  • Facilitating Weekly Respite Care
  • Connecting to Monthly Support Groups

Partner agencies, such as Thrive Alliance, deploy the collaborative dementia care model and training interventions developed by the IU Center for Aging Research, which have been proven to reduce caregiver stress and improve quality of life for both those suffering from dementia and their caregivers. Participants with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD) and their caregivers will receive coaching from community health workers serving as dementia care coordinator assistants, and in-home personal care workers will receive specialized training in dementia care.

This project addresses the urgent needs of an aging population. By the end of 2020, 17 percent of Hoosiers will be age 65 or over, and more than 110,000 of these older adults have ADRD. However, the vast majority of these individuals live in community settings and many alone, indicating a significant demand for creative and rigorously researched community and home- based solutions.

Dementia Friends Indiana

Utilizing the prescribed protocols of Dementia Friendly Indiana, Thrive Alliance is collaborating with community partners to assist Bartholomew County in joining communities across the nation now actively preparing for the increasing numbers of people who will have dementia as the general population ages. By creating dementia friendly communities, the Dementia Friends program:

  • Raises awareness of and develops respect and inclusion of individuals with dementia,
  • Offers services and resources throughout all areas of the community to ensure meaningful access to services that will enhance quality of life,
  • Provides support from initial diagnosis through progression of the disease for those with dementia, their partners, and families, and
  • Promotes meaningful engagement in community

As of January, 2021, nearly 250 individuals and organizations have completed the Dementia Friends information sessions.

Music and Memory

Thrive Alliance has become certified as an In-Home Music and Memory provider and will pilot this program in both Bartholomew and Brown Counties.

Grounded in extensive research, Music and Memory helps individuals living with a wide range of cognitive challenges with several benefits, such as a reduction in mediations and falls, a decrease in depression, a lessening of caregiver stress, and an increase in family engagement.

After the assessment, participants receive an MP3 player with downloaded and personalized music. Listening to musical favorites taps deep into memory and can improve the individual’s quality of life.

Robotic Pet Program

Beginning in January 2021, Thrive Alliance will begin offering a robotic pet program for individuals suffering with dementia. The robots respond to touch and motion, by purring, barking, and rolling over.

The interactive features mimic pet therapy for individuals affected by dementia and are showing that it encourages interaction and reduces anxiety, depression, irritability, and loneliness that is often association with dementia.