Tuscaloosa VAMC provides phone-based dementia assistance

Amy Mitchell is an operator with the program. Source: WBRC video
Amy Mitchell is an operator with the program. Source: WBRC video

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center is home to a first-of-its-kind program to help patients and caregivers dealing with dementia.

The Telephone-Assisted Dementia Outreach (TADO) Clinic offers a phone relationship with a social worker to help families with practical needs, as well as the psychological and social effects of the diagnosis.

"There's so much, and so much emotion that they're experiencing, when dealing with a diagnosis that can be so hard to take care of," TADO Clinic social worker Amy Mitchell said. "And we are really just that additional support on the phone, to be able to be there for them."

The Tuscaloosa VAMC says about 65 percent of their patients live in rural areas. This can make traveling to the center difficult for patients, and having phone assistance available to them can be convenient.

The program is available to any veteran enrolled at the Tuscaloosa VAMC who has a diagnosis of dementia or provides care to someone with dementia. Mitchell also says medical providers will connect patients with the TADO Clinic if they're showing early signs of dementia. This allows the social worker to help track the symptoms, and then continue working with the patient if a diagnosis is made.

Mitchell says most of the diagnoses they deal with are in patients 60 and older, but dementia doesn't affect just the older population. She says she's worked with patients who range in age from 40 to 90.

Mitchell says she is glad to be able to provide this support to families. She believes just a phone call is a way to help ease the burden of a dementia diagnosis.

"They love being able to have someone call and check in on them, and just having the feeling that someone cares," she said.

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