As a statewide Center, one of our key goals is to expand dementia education and research across Michigan. We succeeded in educating diverse areas of Michigan—traveling to speaking engagements on the east and west shores, rural areas in the middle, and even the Upper Peninsula. Despite this success in widespread education, up until a few months ago we did not have the resources to expand research opportunities beyond the Ann Arbor and Detroit areas. That changed this past fall.
In October, thanks to the generous efforts and funds of our community partner and donor, Marcia Haynes, Center staff traveled to Port Huron to enroll interested research participants into the University of Michigan Memory and Aging Project (UM-MAP). For the first time, the Center’s research efforts took place in a mobile, community-based setting, forging great potential for research recruitment efforts for years to come.
This initiative would not have been possible without the determination of Haynes and the local community group she created, the Dementia and Alzheimer’s Resource Committee (DARC). Haynes—who was caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s disease at the time—and the committee worked diligently to educate the Port Huron community on the importance of clinical care, early detection, caregiver support, and research participation before the Center became involved in expanding these efforts in 2015.
Over the course of several years and combined education efforts between the DARC and our Center, local interest began to grow around research participation. With travel to Ann Arbor being a significant barrier, Haynes and the DARC identified an appropriate location and generously funded lodging and expenses to bring Center research staff to Port Huron.
“It took us many years to get everyone here to talk about dementia and understand the importance of research, but we made it happen,” says Haynes about the stigma associated with diagnoses of dementia and hesitation to participate in research studies.”
Over four days in Port Huron, 10 participants were enrolled into the UM-MAP study, creating a unique cohort of participants that Center researchers would otherwise be unable to study. We look forward to following these individuals for many years to come.
We are so grateful for Haynes and the Dementia and Alzheimer’s Resource Committee for partnering with us in education and research, and thank them for making this new venture possible.