Alzheimer's support group meets at Community Health on Valentine's Day

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Alzheimer's support group meets at Community Health on Valentine's Day

Tue, 02/07/2023 - 3:47am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Caregivers for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, related dementia, Parkinson’s disease; those who are undiagnosed and show signs of early dementia and those who have recently lost someone to Alzheimer’s were among the dozen caregivers who attended Community Health’s first meeting of the Alzheimer’s caregivers support group.

“We went around the table and every person got a chance to tell their story,” said Claudia Courcelle, Community Health Director of Care Management. The group meets at Community Health’s Allen Pond offices in Rutland the second Tuesday of the month.

Courcelle and her team of trained facilitators will hold the next meeting of Community Health’s Alzheimer’s Support Group at 4pm on Tuesday, February 14, Valentine’s Day. “It’s a challenging time for some people when they have a loved one who no longer recognizes them or who really can’t do what they used to do,” Courcelle said. “It is an emotional day and might make some of them very sad. We’ll recognize that at the support group meeting.”
“What we learned is that there is very little support in the community for caregivers whose relatives have Alzheimer’s and dementia,” she said. “A lot of people who came wanted to share and understand more about how to work with a person who has some form of dementia. It is a place to talk about your thoughts and feelings.”

Betsey Bianchi was one of the attendees at the first meeting. The 56-year-old electrical engineer by trade, is part of a team that cares for her 82-year-old mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease eight years ago. Bianchi gave up her full-time career when she realized she needed to be more involved in her mother’s care.
“I always thought motherhood was the hardest job that I would ever do, but caring for my Mom is a whole new level,” she said. “As Alzheimer’s progresses you definitely need more and more support. You need to be strong for your loved one and that’s what the support group does for me. Helps me strengthen myself so I can be a better caregiver for my Mom.” Bianchi’s care team works 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Many people don’t realize the emotional strain on caregivers who experience what is described as “the long goodbye.” “Our society doesn’t let you grieve the loss of a loved one until they have passed away,” Bianchi said. “But every single day I see a memory that’s not there anymore. Not only is a support group a safe place to grieve but it also helps me refocus on what my Mom can still do and on how we may find joy together in spite of the losses.”
The Community Health Alzheimer’s Support Group next meets Tuesday, February 14 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. For more information about the Alzheimer’s Support Group, you can contact Kelsey Bathalon at [email protected] or 802-465-2255.

The Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring this week's New England Family Conference, featuring sessions for family caregivers and individuals living with memory loss. For more information about the conference and how to become a community partner, contact the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association also provides educational materials and training for support groups like the one at Community Health. Learn about these other resources:
  • Alzheimer’s Helpline 800-272-3900 is a unique resource for caregivers, family members and anyone who needs information about Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, 24/7.
  • Caregivers Forum is a discussion board for caregivers.
  • Community Resource Finder lists support groups and community 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 new patients. For more information about career opportunities, hours and Community Health locations check our website

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.

Rutland – Community Health