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Duet Receives National Grant; Launches Program to Help Struggling Family Caregivers Across the Country
By Michelle Talsma Everson - Friday Nov 12, 2021
November is National Family Caregivers Month as well as Alzheimer's Awareness Month—the perfect time to reflect and raise awareness about the issues facing family caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Locally, Arizona is the fastest growing state for dementia patients, and its family caregivers spent more hours assisting them than dementia caregivers in other states, according to The Arizona Republic. The Alzheimer's Association reports that U.S. dementia deaths increased 16% from 2019-2020; in Arizona, it increased by 30%. Every state will experience at least a 12% increase in dementia patients by 2025; in Arizona, it is expected to increase by 43%.

Duet: Partners In Health & Aging, a local nonprofit, recognized the unmet growing needs and lack of support to deal with the incredible emotional and mental impacts of caring for someone with dementia, and as a result, created Finding Meaning and Hope, a one-of-a-kind 10-week video discussion series based on the groundbreaking book, Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief, by Pauline Boss, PhD, an expert in complex grief and its negative health impacts on dementia caregivers. A main concept of both book and program is ambiguous loss, a term Dr. Boss coined that refers to the ongoing grief associated with caring for a loved one who is physically present, but psychologically absent as they descend into dementia. Because of this innovative work, Duet was recently awarded $130,000 by the national Community Care Corps to help bring Finding Meaning and Hope to struggling family caregivers of loved ones with dementia across the county.

Duet will pilot the Meaning & Hope Institute, a virtual platform designed to expand resiliency-based support services for family caregivers experiencing declines in health due to the stress caused by ambiguous loss. Duet’s model will remotely train 40+ volunteers as facilitators to conduct Duet’s Finding Meaning and Hope series for dementia caregivers in three diverse U.S. cities, and Spanish speakers in Arizona. The Institute will expand Duet’s capacity to improve dementia family caregivers’ health and well-being as they learn effective self-care strategies for managing their stress and grief, build resiliency, and restore meaning and hope. “We are pleased to make this award to Duet: Partners In Health & Aging. Their excellent volunteer model was chosen over other outstanding programs across the country,” says Paul Weiss, President of The Oasis Institute, which administers Community Care Corps.

Community Care Corps grants are being awarded to organizations across the country to establish, enhance, and grow innovative volunteer models. Community Care Corps is granting $2.85 million to 33 innovative local programs nationwide, including Duet. The program was extremely competitive. One hundred twenty-six organizations from 40 states including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, requested funding for their programs.

New Employees Help Launch Meaning & Hope Institute

Duet has hired Robert Roth, Ph.D. to be the virtual institute’s new managing director. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Dr. Roth brings several decades of experience to developing and advancing the Institute because of his extensive nonprofit and commercial business development, marketing, and management experience. Dr. Roth’s nonprofit work has touched more than 100 million individuals and raised more than $40 million for the American Humane Society, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and others. Dr. Roth’s commercial experience has included service as President and Chief Operating Officer at Grand Canyon Railway, Vice President Marketing for Del Webb Recreational Properties, Vice President Marketing for Radisson Hotels, and Director of National Advertising for the Holiday Inns System.
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead the development and national deployment of the Meaning & Hope Institute,” Dr. Roth says. “We are building on 40 years of pioneering work by Pauline Boss, Ph.D., that has helped so many caregivers find meaning and hope in their relationship with someone they love who has dementia. Providing this support through a virtual platform is long overdue as our aging society has made supporting caregivers a critical health issue.”

In addition to Dr. Roth, Justin McBride, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and experienced nonprofit professional, has joined the Institute as the Finding Meaning and Hope coordinator. With a passion for nonprofit programs and social impact, Justin has a master’s degree in nonprofit management and has served organizations in a variety of roles, including as an Outdoor STEM Instructor at Tonto Creek Camp, Branch Director with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Program Manager for the Arizona Affiliate of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Director of Programming for Arizona SADD, consulting for agencies such as the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and as the co-founder of Social Profit Initiative, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting other nonprofits and social entrepreneurs in building effective and sustainable solutions to challenges facing people and the planet.

“I am excited to put my personal values of mindfulness, compassion, and intentionality to work as I help grow a program that provides valuable support and resources to caregivers of loved ones with dementia,” McBride says.