A local program in Virginia Beach, VA is having a hugely positive impact on the lives of local dementia patients and their loved ones. Southside Geropsychiatric Services, funded through Virginia Beach’s department of human services, teaches caregivers some of the intricacies of helping seniors who have dementia, with the goal of keeping the patients in their homes or assisted-living facilities, rather than having to commit them to a state hospital, program coordinator Kathy O’Connor told Virginia-Pilot reporter Ricardo Lopez. The free service began two years ago and focuses on techniques family members can use to reassure often paranoid dementia sufferers and help them feel more comfortable and understand what is happening to them. The Virginia Department for the Aging recently awarded Southside its 2009 Best Practices award for long-term care and the hope is to replicate the program in other communities. And then maybe the rest of the country.