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Heritage Living Center wins award

     The Ecumen Awakenings™ dementia care program used at Ecumen-managed Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids has received national recognition as the winner of the LeadingAge Excellence in Dementia Care Award presented March 17 at the Great Minds Gala in Washington, D. C.

     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.

     Ecumen, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of senior housing and aging services headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., was honored by LeadingAge, 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.

     Sen. Amy Klobuchar addressed the gala attendees by video and recognized Ecumen as a leader in healthcare innovation. Klobuchar has introduced legislation to increase federal support for Alzheimer’s research and provide tax credits to caregivers. 

     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 shared the stage with country music entertainer Glen Campbell and his family, who received the Senator William Proxmire Award for their advocacy for research, education and support related to Alzheimer’s disease since 2011, when the disease was diagnosed in the country singer. The award is named for the late U.S. Senator, who had Alzheimer’s disease.