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Dementia-Friendly Holyoke Partners boost programming for Spanish-speaking caregivers

Cuidadores Unidos members celebrate their completion of the Cuidando con Respecto course

Thanks to a grant received by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, the Dementia Friendly Holyoke collaboration is strengthening its services for local Spanish-speaking individuals who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or related dementias. 

Dementia Friendly Holyoke is a collaboration of WestMass ElderCare, the Holyoke Council on Aging, The Loomis Communities, and the Alzheimer’s Association.  The grant from the Tufts Foundation will specifically fund Cuidadores Unidos, a Spanish speaking caregivers support group that meets monthly at the Holyoke Senior Center.  This group formed in the fall of 2018 after its participants attended a caregiver skill-building training offered by WestMass ElderCare called Cuidando con Respeto.  Having bonded through this training and the shared experience of caring for their loved ones, these participants decided to continue meeting regularly for the much-needed mutual support the group brought them.  Now a year later, Cuidadores Unidos has clearly answered a need in the community, and has grown to a vibrant community of 25 caregivers who are self-directed and self-governed.  

“Dementia affects the Latino population at a rate of about one and a half times that of the white population,” said Roseann Martoccia, WMEC’s executive director. “This makes the Cuidadores Unidos a really crucial initiative for the underserved Spanish-speaking population in greater Holyoke.”

In addition to funding continued support group meetings (now offered remotely through Zoom), the grant from Tufts will provide COVID-safe educational and self-care opportunities for its caregiver participants.  For example, virtual yoga classes in Spanish are offered every Wednesday.  When in-person gatherings are deemed safe, additional self-care supports like “spa days” are planned to give caregiver-participants much-needed respite opportunities.  In addition, Spanish-language workshops will be offered to provide caregivers with in-depth knowledge and tools regarding dementia and dementia-related behaviors.  This additional programming will be scheduled once social distancing restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted. 

For more information about Cuidadores Unidos, please contact Olga Yanginski:  (413) 538-9020, ext. 346 or oyanginski@wmeldercare.org

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