Hopkins study to aid dementia care

TOWSON — A three-year study by Johns Hopkins University will examine if providing regular companionship and personalized activities to people living at home with dementia improves outcomes for all participants: people living with dementia, their family caregiver, and their volunteer companion guide. The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter is partnering with Johns Hopkins to manage and train the volunteer companion guides. MEMORI Corps (Making Engagement Meaningful through Organized Routine Interaction) companion guide applicants must be healthy and age 55 or older.

“Science shows that social interaction is needed to support cognitive health,” says Ilene Rosenthal, Greater Maryland Chapter program director. “Recruiting companion guides from a demographic whose social circle can wane as they age or retire can provide self-affirming validation that they can still contribute.”

Residents from Baltimore City or the following counties are eligible: Allegany, Arundel, Baltimore, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester.

Companion guides receive training to provide regular, one-on-one emotional companionship and activities to the person living with dementia. All interactions are delivered virtually through Uniper Care, an interactive televised interface that hosts live and recorded activities designed for older adults.

“Companionship and social engagement are important for all of us, and this is especially true as we get older,” says Dr. Quincy Samus, trial principal investigator. “The global COVID-19 pandemic has certainly exposed the negative impacts of social isolation, and the MEMORI Corps research trial addresses this very issue. We are testing a new way to keep people living with dementia at home—connected and engaged— while simultaneously providing meaningful opportunities for volunteers to engage as Companion Guides. In addition, we are also supporting the health and well-being of their family caregivers.”

Companion guide benefits include:

• free virtual assessments of health and well being

• Up to $2,400 over a 12-month period for serving as a companion guide

• gift cards valued up to $60 for completing three study assessment visits

• free 12-month subscription to Uniper Care

• training, support and education on activities, health, wellbeing and healthy brain aging

• opportunities to meet new people in the community

Individuals living at home with dementia and their care partners who reside in the above-referenced areas are also encouraged to consider participating in MEMORI Corps.

Benefits for people living at home with a diagnosed dementia and their in-home caregiver include:

• free virtual assessments of health and well being

• free 6-month subscription to Uniper Care

• a companion guide to provide regular emotional companionship and activities, and up to $140 in gift cards per participant for completing up to seven study assessments

There is no cost to participate. To learn more, call 410-550-6744 or email memoricorps@jhmi.edu.

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