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Ecumen receives national award for dementia care

The Ecumen Awakenings dementia care program used at Ecumen Bethany Community in Alexandria has received national recognition as the winner of the LeadingAge Excellence in Dementia Care Award.

It was presented March 17 at the Great Minds Gala in Washington, D.C.

LeadingAge is a national association of nonprofit aging services providers. The award honors extraordinary leadership in the quest to improve lives of those touched by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The care program emphasizes managing dementia without highly sedating drugs. Residents, their families, doctors and care staff all work together to replace traditional drug therapies with individualized techniques that reduce anxiety and difficult behaviors while improving quality of life.

Implementation began at Ecumen Bethany Community in 2010.

In accepting the award, Shelley Matthes, RN, Ecumen director of quality improvement, told the gala attendees, “I often tell my colleagues that when we know better, we do better. Awakenings is an evolution of many wonderful, intelligent, kind people who put their heart into this work to learn, to do better, so people’s lives are better.”

“Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million people, many of whom are cared for by our members or informal caregivers,” said Larry Minnix, LeadingAge’s president and CEO. “We hope that the examples set by this year’s honorees highlight the work that is being done to care for those affected while we search for a cure.”

Ecumen is a nonprofit provider of senior housing and aging services headquartered in Shoreview.

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