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UVM Medical Center offers new center for Vermonters caring for loved ones with dementia

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Vermont Public File
Vermonters caring for loved ones with dementia will have a new center to access resources through the University of Vermont Medical Center.

There's a new place for Vermonters caring for loved ones with dementia to connect with resources and support.

The University of Vermont Medical Center announced the creation of the UVMMC Dementia Family Caregiver Center this week, which offers peer mentorship, short-term counseling, and small, virtual groups for people new to caregiving, and those who’ve been doing it a long time.

"We have specific groups for care partners, spouses, and then we have other groups specifically for adult children who are providing care to parents," said Lori P. McKenna, a social worker at UVM who helped establish the center.

She said it grew out of needs she heard from families for help accessing legal consultation, information around setting up estates, guardianship, respite care, and guidance with future care planning.

"We are not just supporting caregivers, we are encouraging them to change and to grow and to develop."
Lori P. McKenna, UVMMC Dementia Family Caregiver Center

The programs offered by the center are lead by trained professionals to help caregivers better understand dementia symptoms. They're open to anyone in Vermont, and are typically covered by insurance, according to McKenna.

"We are not just supporting caregivers, we are encouraging them to change and to grow and to develop," she said. "So we come at this with the understanding that the person with dementia is likely not going to change, but the person that can change is the caregiver."

More from Vermont Public: Here's how to start the tough conversation with an aging loved one

A peer-mentorship program, matching people with lived experience caregiving and those new to the role, had its first pilot with six pairs last year.

McKenna said the idea came from former caregivers, after their family members passed away. “Sometimes they’ll say, ‘I’ve developed all of this skill over the past six or seven years. What am I going to do with it? Can I help somebody else?’”

The program will begin its second round of pairings in April.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or contact reporter Lexi Krupp:


Lexi covers science and health stories for Vermont Public.
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