Dr. Diane Healey has high expectations for primary care residents during their geriatric rotations at St. Vincent Health Care Center for Healthy Aging. She thinks it’s vital that residents not only understand an older adult’s medical and physical condition, but also social conditions.
That’s one of the reasons she began asking residents to become Dementia Friends. It’s a movement brought to Indiana by CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, which offers education to become a Dementia Friend on its website at www.dementiafriendsindiana.org. When the program first started in Indiana last year, Healey jumped on board.
CICOA presents Dr. Diane Healey with Spirit Award
CICOA recently presented her with a Spirit Award. It is given annually to someone who demonstrates a personal commitment and investment of time and energy toward creating a better quality-of-life for older adults or people with disabilities.
“Having dementia, or knowing someone who has dementia is so common, and we’re living longer, so we are going to have to deal with it,” Healey said.
Her goal is to help educate people about the disease, beginning with the next generation of physicians.
Dementia Friends also works to break down negative barriers and perceptions associated with having dementia.
“This improved perception of dementia among advanced clinical practitioners can result in earlier detection and diagnosis, allowing families to have more time to plan and get the help they need to optimize their experience,” said Dustin Ziegler, CICOA’s director of community programs, who also heads up Dementia Friends Indiana.
A champion for social services experiences for medical students
Not only has Dr. Healey been a champion for Dementia Friends Indiana, she’s been a champion of CICOA for many years. She worked with CICOA to create a program that allows medical residents to shadow CICOA care managers on home visits, so they can better experience the challenges patients face at home.
Healey is a member of CICOA’s Medical Advisory Council and has been a frequent speaker at special events.
“Dr. Healey is a true partner, who is helping CICOA and its care managers better understand the elderly population,” Ziegler said.