The Meaning & Hope Institute is a program of Duet: Partners In Health & Aging, a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. The Institute provides services and support for America’s approximately 15 million family and friends who are caring for someone who has dementia. In addition, we are training and certifying Finding Meaning and Hope discussion facilitators by providing them with the information and resources they need to bring this program to family caregivers in their communities.
1 in 9
people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s dementia
Alzheimer or dementia caregivers provided care in 2020
Nationwide, the unmet need of family caregivers served by the Meaning & Hope Institute is extensive and rapidly growing. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.8 million Americans, ages 65 and older, were living with Alzheimer’s dementia during 2021. More than 1 in 9 people (11.3%) age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s dementia, and 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
During 2020, more than 15 million caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias provided an estimated 18.5 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at $257 billion. By 2050, the cost of dementia care is projected to reach $1.1 trillion (Alzheimer’s Association 2021).
Nonprofit Duet: Partners in Health & Aging began responding to this unmet need during 2017, launching a volunteer-led Finding Meaning and Hope discussion series. The series is based on the work of Pauline Boss, Ph.D., and her groundbreaking book Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief.
Prior to 2021, Duet’s Finding Meaning and Hope work centered on training and certifying local volunteer facilitators to conduct a discussion series that teaches caregivers self-care strategies to shore up their well-being and make peace with complex grief as their loved one descends into dementia. To date, more than 200 facilitators have been trained, and more than 500 family caregivers completed the Finding Meaning and Hope program.
Thanks to a federal grant from the National Community Care Corps, the Institute is currently conducting a national pilot to train facilitators and offer discussion series in Seattle, Washington; Sheridan, Wyoming; and New Orleans, Louisiana, with an additional pilot for Spanish-speaking caregivers in Arizona.
family caregivers completed the finding meaning and hope program to date
facilitators have been trained to provide care as of today
The work of the Meaning & Hope Institute is based on the pioneering work of Pauline Boss, Ph.D. Dr. Boss is Professor Emeritus of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota; a fellow in the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy; and former president of the National Council on Family Relations. She is also a family therapist in private practice in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dr. Boss coined the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s and summarized the research that led to her theory in the widely acclaimed book Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Harvard University Press,1999). Her more recent book, Loss, Trauma, and Resilience (Norton, 2006) was written for professionals who work with families of the physically and psychologically missing.
Dr. Boss was a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School (child psychiatry), University of Southern California (gerontology), and Hunter School of Social Work in New York City. Today, Dr. Boss continues her clinical practice, lectures and presents discussion series and keynote speeches nationally and internationally, and plays a central role in developing the methods and outreach of the Meaning & Hope Institute.
Aaron Blight, Ed.D., is an international speaker and consultant on caregiving, aging, and healthcare. He is the Founder of Caregiving Kinetics and has been recognized as a “Top 100 Healthcare Leader” by the International Forum on Advancements in Healthcare. Dr. Blight works with providers that serve aging and disabled populations to deliver workforce consulting, training for front-line caregivers, focus group research, and leadership advisory services. He also serves general employers that wish to support their employees with caregiving responsibilities at home.
His career leading healthcare organizations spans more than two decades and includes the successful creation, development, and sale of a large home care company; a series of policy leadership positions at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; and the study of caregiving as a phenomenon of social science. Dr. Blight speaks with groups all over the world about caregiving. In workshops and conference talks, he invites participants to think deeply about the meaning and significance of their individual caregiving experiences. His book, When Caregiving Calls: Guidance as You Care for a Parent, Spouse, or Aging Relative, received a 2020 Best Indie Book Award a 2021 IPPY Award, and a 2022 Mom’s Choice Award.
Dr. Blight holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree from the University of Baltimore, and a doctorate degree from The George Washington University. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at Shenandoah University, an honorary board member of the Well Spouse Association, and an advisory board member of the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging.
Aaron and his wife, Jessica, live outside of Washington, D.C., in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. They have four children and four grandchildren. Aaron enjoys exercise, music, travel, cats, and ice cream.
Pauline Boss, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota; a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; a former president of the National Council on Family Relations; and a family therapist in private practice.
With her groundbreaking work as a scientist-practitioner, Dr. Boss is the principal theorist in the study of ambiguous loss, a term she coined in the 1970s. Since then, she has researched various types of ambiguous loss, summarizing her work in the widely acclaimed book, Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Harvard University Press, 1999). In addition, Loss, Trauma, and Resilience (Norton, 2006), presents six therapeutic guidelines for treatment when loss is complicated by ambiguity. These guidelines are based on her years of work with families of the physically missing during the Vietnam War; after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York City; in Kosovo; and in Japan after the tsunami of 2011, as well as in clinical work with families with loved ones who are missing psychologically—from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as from traumatic brain injury.
Dr. Boss’s book, Loving Someone Who Has Dementia (Jossey-Bass, 2011), outlines proven strategies for managing the ongoing stress and grief while caring for someone who has dementia and offers hope for dealing with the ambiguous loss of dementia—having a loved one both here and not here, physically present but psychologically absent. For more information, see her website: www.ambiguousloss.com.
Cheryl Goodwin is the Chief Strategy Officer at Covenant Health Network, a multi-state post-acute/long term care network. She leads their initiatives in:
Cheryl has held positions of leadership in non-profits and community boards/groups throughout her career. She served as CEO of a large multiservice Human Service Organization in Iowa/Illinois.
Cheryl serves as a consultant to senior healthcare providers in areas such as: strategic planning, organizational development, and board governance. She is committed to giving back to the community, currently in a leadership position with Phoenix West Rotary.
Dr. Patricio F. Reyes is a board certified and highly regarded neurologist and neuropathologist. He is currently Director, Traumatic Brain Injury and Alzheimer’s Disease & Cognitive Disorders Clinics at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. Pat’s experience includes 30 years of clinical expertise, translational (e.g. in vivo models, neuropathology and CSF testing) research, and drug development (e.g. Cognex, Exelon and Exelon Patch) experience in Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Reyes is former Professor of Neurology, Pathology & Psychiatry at Creighton University in Omaha & Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia (Bernard Alpers Professor), Director and founder of the Center for Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Brain Bank in both institutions, and Karsten Solheim Chair for Dementia at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. He also helped establish the Center for Dementia Care at HealthPartners in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dr. Reyes was one of the first to establish rapid autopsy brain banking in the United States and the first to build Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia Centers in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska. He and his associates described the smell changes in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders and was the principal investigator of numerous clinical trials that led to the FDA approval of new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. Similar olfactory deficits may exist in individuals with concussion and brain trauma.
Most importantly, Dr. Reyes has also been an advocate for identifying as well as improving the health care needs of all ethnic groups and high-risk populations. He was a volunteer physician for Golden Gloves, and board member, 2009 distinguished educator of the year, and education committee chair of the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians. He has worked extensively with the Retired Players Association to improve health care for retired NFL players as well as improving health care awareness for the boxing profession in his native Philippines.
His accomplishments as a teacher, clinician, scientist and community leader have been affirmed by his selection as “Best Doctors of American in 2003-2004, Scientist of the 21st Century, the Republican Party’s Ronald Reagan Gold Medal recipient in 2004, Physician of the Year for 2005, 2007 Arizona’s Asian American Association for Community Service and Physician of the Day by the Arizona House of Representatives. In 2009, he was named Top Doctor, in Who’s Who Global Medical Directory. He is a member of several medical and scientific organizations. He is currently involved in assessing the medical, cognitive, neurologic and neuropathologic aspects of sports and non-sport related traumatic brain injury symptoms with the hope of developing newer and more effective treatment.
Bob Roth is Managing Partner of Cypress HomeCare Solutions. Bob hosts the radio show “Health Futures, Taking Stock in You.” and is a monthly columnist for Lovin Life after 50 newspapers and the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Bob’s involvement on Boards and Commissions has included:
Connie Steward has provided consulting services to a broad range of corporations, non-profit organizations, and country governments throughout a career that has spanned four decades. As a member of executive teams, Connie developed strategies and the capabilities required to achieve intended results, guide organizations through transitions and adapt to changing conditions that affect our lives at work.
Connie has led teams for major initiatives in Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia. As Senior Vice President for Habitat for Humanity International, she led global learning and development and human resources. As CEO and co-founder of The Crossland Group, Connie worked with a diverse group of clients, leading projects focused on addressing complex problems and building capacity to implement solutions that were sustained over time. Connie leveraged her extensive experience in education, technology, research and business processes to achieve long-term results. Before starting the Crossland Group, she was Executive Vice President of the Forum Corporation, a training, research and consulting firm. During her years at Forum, Connie led various functions including product development, consulting resources and the largest sales and delivery office serving US and global clients.
Helping people learn how to create better lives has been a primary focus throughout her career. At the start of her career, Connie worked at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN where she served as Associate Director of Patient and Health Education. After receiving her graduate degree from the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University, she extended her professional work beyond medical settings, but continued to include health and wellness projects in her consulting practice.
In recent years, Connie has focused on supporting individuals and families who are coping with changes and significant challenges in later stages of life. As a senior advisor to the Lifespan Research Foundation, she was the project leader for Road Maps for Life Transitions and Next Chapter in My Life programs that draw upon the findings of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and other research and provide guidance for creating meaning and fulfillment in life.
Dr. Emma Viera, originally from Puerto Rico, is a mother of three and a wife. Dr. Viera has a master’s degree in Public Health and a doctorate degree in Health Administration. During her 30 years as a public health professional, she has worked internationally (South America and Africa), along with state and local levels with an emphasis on chronic disease and maternal and child issues. As a health administrator her emphasis has been integrating public health and mental health to primary care services as well as integrating primary care and public health messages to clinics for individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness.
Presently as the executive director for Unlimited Potential, her work is dedicated to help community members understand and to address the social determinants of health. Under the leadership of Dr. Viera, individuals, families and neighborhoods can and want to be part of the transformation they desire and deserve. Dr. Viera brings her expertise as Epidemiologist, Biostatistician and Health Administrator to the ongoing work evaluation of the effectiveness of health services related to improving community health outcomes. Unlimited Potential has four interconnected pillars of service:
Bob Roth’s nonprofit work has touched more than 100 million individuals on behalf of the American Humane Association, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and others.
In the commercial sector he has serviced as President and Chief Operating Officer at Grand Canyon Railway, Vice President Marketing for Del Webb Recreational Properties, Vice President Marketing for Radisson Hotels, and Director of National Advertising for the Holiday Inns System.
Bob holds a B.S. in Public Communications from Boston University and an MBA and Ph.D. in business administration from California Coast University.
Ann Wheat has served as the director of family caregiver services since 2014 and is now Duet’s Executive Director.
She holds a bachelor’s degree and has completed graduate studies in recreational management from the University of Arizona.
Ann was a member of the Duet Board of Directors from 1999-2005 and co-chaired Duet’s major fundraising events.
Before her service at Duet, Ann was an acting deputy director for the City of Phoenix.
Wendy Cohen, MPH joined the Duet team in 2020 as senior director of services. She brings more than 30 years of experience in strategic planning, revenue and fiscal management, and organizational and programmatic assessment.
Wendy holds a bachelor’s degree in health and society and an MPH from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Prior to joining Duet, she served as the Interim Executive Director for Phoenix Girls Chorus and President of Wendy Cohen Consulting.
Nichole Barnes has served as the director of communications of Duet since 2014.
She holds a bachelor’s of business administration with a major in marketing from Iowa State University.
Prior to her service at Duet, Nichole worked in development and marketing roles at World Vision and UMOM New Day Centers since 1994.
Jennifer Kabrud joined the Duet team as the Director of Development in May 2022. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a Minor in Public Relations and Strategic Communications and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Studies, both from Arizona State University. Prior to joining Duet, Jennifer held development positions with numerous health and human service organizations throughout the Valley.
Julie Blake has served as the director of operations of Duet since 2013.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in mathematics from the University of Arizona. Julie started as a volunteer with Duet in 2001, helping to edit the Duet website.
She was hired by Duet as an administrative assistant for Congregational Health and later as financial secretary
Janet Richards has served as the caregiver services coordinator since 2018 and is now Duet’s director of family caregiver services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s in interdisciplinary studies from George Mason University.
Prior to her service at Duet, Janet worked as an instructional designer through her company, JSR Design. She first became associated with Duet in 2017, when she started attending support groups for family caregivers.
Justin McBride is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. With a passion for nonprofit programs and social impact, and a master’s degree in nonprofit management, He has served in a variety of roles, including as Branch Director with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Program Manager for the Arizona Affiliate of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Director of Programming for Arizona SADD, consulting for agencies such as the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and as the co-founder of Social Profit Initiative, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting other nonprofits and social entrepreneurs in building solutions to challenges facing people and the planet.
To extend the impact of the Meaning and Hope program nationwide, we are seeking to partner with nonprofit and government organizations, and individuals who wish to train and certify as Finding Meaning and Hope discussion series facilitators.
We are also seeking to partner with commercial organizations that are interested in supporting the work of the Meaning & Hope Institute in order to increase the brand equity return on their philanthropic investments.
Join the growing number of organizations and agencies across the country who are helping to bring Finding Meaning and Hope and other much needed resources to caregivers in their communities. Contact Bob Roth, Managing Director of the Meaning & Hope Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about becoming a Meaning & Hope Partner.