UOG gets grant to improve geriatric and dementia care in region

Photo shows, from left, Anita B. Enriquez, senior vice president of student and academic affairs; Margaret Hattori-Uchima, co-project director and dean of the School of Health; and Veronica B. Alave, co-project director and nursing instructor, at a press conference on Aug. 15 at the University of Guam School of Health. (UOG photo)

A new $3.7 million grant awarded to the University of Guam will help fill gaps in care for the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.

The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program grant, awarded by the Health Resources & Services Administration, will fund health care workforce development, family and caregiver training, and enhancement of the UOG nursing assistant program specifically related to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The grant will be carried out until June 2024. A press conference was held this Thursday morning, where UOG officials and community partners described grant objectives in detail.

Dr. Anita Borja-Enriquez, UOG senior vice president, said: “Without the partners in our community, without the partnership of the Guam Memorial Hospital, obviously, with our community partner … with Catholic Social Service and certainly without the overall support of the network that we have within our healthcare industry, this wouldn’t have been made possible.”

Margaret Hattori-Uchima, co-project director and dean, UOG School of Health, said they are committed to reaching their vision of transforming the healthcare system, serving the manamko and those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias through these meaningful partnerships.

“The goal of this grant is really to improve health outcomes and the quality of life for our manamko,” she said.

The Guam State Office on Aging projects a 15 percent increase in Guam’s elderly population from 2015 to 2020, and separate data from the World Health Organization has identified diseases such as Alzheimer’s and related dementias among the major causes of disease burden in the Western Pacific region.

Hattori-Uchima said these circumstances contribute to the crisis facing the region given critical shortages of healthcare workers, including nursing assistants, to care for the elderly.