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Alzheimer’s Support Group At Community Health Meets Jan. 10 in Rutland

Margaret Thompson, LPN, Kelsey Bathalon, BSN, RN, and Russ Webber, LPN

Margaret Thompson, LPN, Kelsey Bathalon, BSN, RN, and Russ Webber, LPN

“Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking,”  said Claudia Courcelle, Community Health Director of Care Management. “Family caregivers often feel awful that they don’t have the patience. It’s the worst feeling of guilt ever.” The general public isn’t aware of the guilt, suffering and struggle paid and unpaid caregivers go through.

Courcelle and her team of care managers will hold their first Alzheimer’s support group meeting Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 4pm at Community Health Allen Pond, 71 Allen Street, Rutland, Suite 403. Future meetings will be held on the second Tuesday of each month. “There isn’t a support group in the Rutland community right now,” Courcelle said.

The Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association trains volunteers and community groups to help build a network of support facilitators around the state.

When asked what it’s like attending Alzheimer’s Associaiton education programs or support groups, Jordan Cotto, Program Manager Alzheimer’s Association Vermont, said, “You learn about how to communicate and support people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. And more importantly, you connect with people and have a shared experience. Caregivers, from all walks of life have to cope with grief and loss every day.”
Three Community Health care managers volunteered to manage the Rutland County support group. Kelsey Bathalon, BSN, RN, Margaret Thompson, LPN, and Russ Webber, LPN, encounter Alzheimer’s patients, their caregivers and families in their daily work.

“Our involvement with care managed patients puts us in direct contact with caregivers and gives us the experience to start this program from what we have dealt with for years from our work,” said Thompson.

“There are caregivers who do ask if there is a support group. And if there is one locally,” said Bathalon. “There is nothing here despite that there is a large population of patients with Alzheimer’s and caregivers who need the connection to others for support. I think it’s a needed service.”

“I’m based in a nursing home,” said Webber. “Families that have people in nursing homes don’t know of these supports, or they are not getting recommended. It’s being overlooked. Knowing that there is a place out there where people can turn is going to be huge.”

The support groups designed by the Alzheimer’s Association create safe environments where caregivers and family members can share feelings, thoughts and experiences.

“We will be facilitating caregivers, so they are able to run the conversation in the way that they need it to go and have the time to share what they need to share and get off their chest,” said Bathalon.

“Whatever you want to talk about today is our agenda,” Thompson said. “The bulk of the meeting is going to be about the individual’s frustration of feelings or what they are going through, to get support from us.”

The meetings will not just be for caregivers but for family members as well. Webber said in the nursing homes there are people who don’t come and visit because they are too emotional about losing a person they once knew. “If they got this support and information when they first had their loved ones come into the facilities, maybe they would be more involved, and they would be able to deal with it better,” he said.

For more information about the Community Health support group contact Kelsey Bathalon at or 802-855-2255. Or call the Alzheimer’s Helpline at 800-272-3900.

In the next three years, Vermont is projected to have a 30% increase in people over the age of 65 who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Currently, over 13,000 Vermonters over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That number is projected to climb to 17,000 by 2025 (not including younger onset). Dementia patients need five to nine hours of care daily.

The Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association provides educational materials and training for support groups like the one at Community Health. Learn about these other resources:

Look for details of the Alzheimer’s support group on Community Health’s website, ask your primary care provider or call Community Health’s Patient Access Center at 802-779-9169 or toll free at 888-989-8707.

Community Health is Vermont’s largest FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center), a network of primary care, pediatric, behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community Dental offices are located in Rutland and Shoreham; Community Kids Dental and Community Health Pediatrics  are in Rutland; and Behavioral Health services are available at all of our locations. Community Health Express Care centers, open 7 days a week, are located at the Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers.

All Community Health locations are open and accepting patients. For more information about career opportunities, hours and Community Health locations check our website

Your Health, Our Mission

The mission of Community Health is to be the foremost integrated community health center providing quality and collaborative care that is accessible to all people, in order to live their best lives and build stronger communities.

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