Thrive by IU Health

July 25, 2022

Patients with dementia find ‘Friends’ in Saxony and Tipton

IU Health Saxony Hospital

Patients with dementia find ‘Friends’ in Saxony and Tipton

Thanks to Indiana University Health Foundation donors, seniors with dementia have Friends–with a capital “F”–at IU Health Saxony and IU Health Tipton hospitals.

That’s because these facilities have been designated a Dementia Friends Indiana Hospitals, thanks to grants from the IU Health Foundation Regional Grants program—a program that makes sure IU Health facilities can address the unique needs of the communities they serve.

Being named a “Dementia Friend” facility does exactly that—it meets the needs of older patients by training hospital staff to care for patients with dementia or other cognitive disorders. It also provides tangible materials that help seniors with dementia deal with the trauma of a hospital visit.

Claire Shawver
IU Health Social Worker and Saxony program coordinator Claire Shawver

“A visit to the hospital is scary enough,” said IU Health Social Worker and Saxony program coordinator Claire Shawver. “Add to that someone who is scared and confused, and it can be very traumatic.”

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 110,000 Hoosiers live with Alzheimer’s disease, with the number expected to increase to 130,000 by 2025. In addition, 11% of Hoosiers over age 45 have subjective cognitive decline, an early symptom of dementia.

What this means is that most Hoosiers are affected by dementia. “I can’t remember a single Dementia Friends training session where there hasn’t been a person who knew someone living with dementia,” Shawver said.

To address this reality, every member of the IU Health Saxony Hospital staff has participated in dementia training, regardless of whether they have regular contact with geriatric patients. This same training will soon be available at IU Health Tipton Hospital as well.

Claire Shawver and nurse Tai Oliver
IU Health Saxony social worker Claire Shawver (right) and nurse Tai Oliver (left)

The program has been well received. In follow-up surveys at IU Health Saxony Hospital, 100% of team members said they are glad they received the Dementia Friends training, and it has inspired the hospital to consider how the program could broaden the hospital’s impact with additional funding.

According to Shawver, IU Health Saxony Hospital is looking at its facility through the lens of patients with dementia and assessing physical changes that could improve the experience for a patient with dementia. The team is also considering—including expanding the Dementia Friends lessons to include community partners such as ambulance personnel.

“Every day this training comes into play,” Shawver said. “Every day, we have someone here who has some kind of memory or dementia disorder.”

To support dementia-related initiatives at IU Health Tipton and Saxony hospitals, contact IU Health Foundation Senior Development Officer Leigh Ann Erickson at 317.373.0142.

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