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Advocates needed in Johnson, Shelby counties for people battling illnesses alone

Posted at 7:53 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 22:07:54-05

FRANKLIN — A group of volunteers in Johnson County are helping those with Alzheimer's, dementia, or a mental illness and living life on their own.

Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults (VASIA), a program in Johnson County, is helping people by providing them with a court-appointed advocate to help them with financial and medical decisions.

"I guess probably for most people it's hard to fathom that there aren't family or friends," advocate Kevin Barton said. "But there are individuals in the community in that situation."

Lauren Rynearson worked at a nursing home where several residents benefited from the program. She says it gives people who feel alone someone to help them make critical and healthy choices.

"The behaviors that a resident could typically have at that age they were starting to not be so severe," Rynerson said.

Advocates needed for people battling illnesses alone

Anyone can make a referral for someone. After that, the person is evaluated by a physician and then a judge decides if a volunteer advocate will be appointed.

"We don't probably have many happy stories on the bench," Johnson County Superior Court 1 Judge Kevin Barton said. "Unfortunately, it's a dispute resolution place and that's where I think this program is so important is we are addressing it as a societal solution."

VASIA came to Johnson County three years ago and counties separately request grant money from the state to help run the programs.

The program is expanding to Shelby County, but a majority of the counties in Indiana are not yet covered.

The volunteers are hoping to spread the word about the program. They are also looking for more volunteers.

You can view the counties with the program below:

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You can learn more about the program below:

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