U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Funds LSU Social Work Professor’s Efforts to Provide Care to Alzheimer’s Caregivers

BATON ROUGE – LSU School of Social Work Professor Scott E. Wilks has been awarded a $90,625 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA. The project will address the impact of COVID-19 on Louisiana residents who care at home for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, or ADRD. Wilks and his multidisciplinary team aim to improve the health and well-being of these Louisiana caregivers with utilization of telehealth and in-home, smart device technologies.  

“One component we’ve seen from the impact of COVID-19 is that our older adult population, including those with ADRD and their caregivers, are postponing their regular, non-COVID-related medical care. Many are remaining at home and not seeking medical attention, to the detriment of their health,” Wilks said. 

Scott Wilks, LSU School of Social Work

Scott Wilks, Ph.D., was awarded a $90,625 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.

This federal grant will allow social workers in Louisiana to provide tablets and technology training to caregivers to help their loved ones gain access to essential face-to-face telehealth services.  

“Face-to-face telehealth adds an essential layer of engagement, intending to decrease their sense of isolation and associated anxiety, depression and other health indicators,” Wilks said. “We will remind them how critical it is to stay attuned to their health needs, and to attend primary care appointments and services when they need it. We now know that our healthcare system has the capacity to receive those who need it, COVID-related or otherwise.” 

This further supports the collaboration between LSU Social Work, Ochsner Health System, Chamberlain University College of Nursing and Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area in Baton Rouge. The group previously received a $3.73 million grant from HRSA for the Louisiana Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, or LA-GWEP, to improve the quality of dementia friendly practice in primary care.  

“For ADRD families, there’s an enormous sense of seclusion and health problems associated with it. Our focus with this project is to show that we remain engaged, especially during these isolative coronavirus conditions,” Wilks said. “As a Louisiana native, I remain committed to improving quality of life among our state's older adults, especially our ADRD patients and caregivers." 

Scott E. Wilks is a Gerontological Society of America Fellow and John A. Hartford Foundation Faculty Scholar in Geriatric Social Work. Wilks maintains the following positions within LSU School of Social Work: professor; PhD Program director; Graduate Advanced Study in Gerontology coordinator; Louisiana Geriatric Workforce Education Program director; and Behavioral Health Workforce Education & Training Program director. His research agenda focuses on older adult health and well-being; specifically, health disparities among individuals and families living with ADRD, including primary caregivers. Wilks is prominently published in social work and interprofessional journals related to health and aging. For the past seven years, he has led research projects and programs supported by more than $7.2 million from national and regional sources. Locally, his research and community service include collaborations with AARP-Louisiana, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, Hospice of Baton Rouge and Poydras Home Retirement Community of Greater New Orleans. 

This project is supported by HRSA of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, as part of an award totaling $90,625.00. The contents of the above statement are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government. 


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Mary Woods
LSU College of Human Sciences & Education