A $3.7 million grant received by the University of Guam will be used to help care for elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia living on Guam, in the Federated States of Micronesia, and in the Marshall Islands.
Anita Enriquez, senior vice president for academic and student affairs, said the grant will “support healthy living for our elderly and support the kind of professional development needed for family members who give up so much in order to ensure the quality of life for our elderly in our community are enhanced.”
She said receiving the highly competitive grant would not have been possible without the help of UOG’s partnership with Guam Memorial Hospital and Catholic Social Service, and the “overall support of the network that we have within the health care network.”
UOG was one of 37 recipients nationwide, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California, and Puerto Rico.
Margaret Hattori-Uchima, project co-director and dean of UOG's School of Health, said that while the focus is on geriatrics, at least $100,000 per year will be used to train family members and caregivers of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
She said the need for the funding became apparent two years ago when Diana Calvo, the executive director of Catholic Social Service, asked the university to offer dementia training for the nonprofit's staff and for family caregivers.
“From that, we heard an outcry from families and staff members saying there is limited training available on Guam,” Hattori-Uchima said.
The Guam State Office on Aging projects a 15% increase in Guam’s elderly population from 2015 to 2020, and separate data from the World Health Organization has identified sensory organ diseases and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia among the major health burdens in the Western Pacific region.
UOG will receive the funding for a five-year period, but Hattori-Uchima said the university will continue to apply for the assistance beyond that period.