May marks Older Americans Month and this year’s theme is Aging Abound.
According to the Area Agency on Aging’s website, “Older Americans Month is celebrated every May to recognize the impact older adults have within their communities and spotlight resources, services and individuals supporting the aging process such as senior center staff, home health care workers, family caregivers, advocates and volunteers.”
The website also states that this year’s theme offers “an opportunity to explore diverse aging experiences and discuss how communities can combat stereotypes.”
Scott Griswold received the 2023 Outstanding Senior Citizen Award this month from the Area Agency on Aging, PSA 2, which serves Central Ohio counties Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble and Shelby. Griswold was nominated for the award by the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter.
Griswold was honored during Tuesday’s Senior Day, an annual event coordinated by the Urbana Champaign County Senior Center.
The nomination application seeking to honor Griswold stated, “Scott Griswold has ministered the community through his work as the lead pastor of United Church of South Vienna. Through his ministry, Scott knows the importance and impact of humbly serving others. Many volunteers who choose to serve with the Alzheimer’s Association do so because they have a connection to the disease. In many instances, the connection is with a grandparent, parent, sibling, or spouse who they have helped care for on the journey through the disease. Scott sought out the Alzheimer’s Association for a much different reason. He had been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s and as he embarked on his journey with the disease, he wanted to educate himself and his family of what was to come.”
Griswold has lived in Champaign County since the late 1990s. Prior to that he attended the University of Dayton where he majored in marketing and business administration. He spent about 18 years in the health care industry selling hospital information systems. In 1989 Griswold says he felt a call to ministry, which led him to go back to school where he got his master’s of divinity degree. He ministered at different churches until he found his home at the United Church of South Vienna, where he has ministered for the past 22 years and is co pastor with his wife, Karen Griswold. Scott Griswold also worked at Urbana University for over 10 years as an adjunct professor.
Scott recalls the moment that everything began to change for him. It was the summer of 2018, and Griswold was in his backyard doing a “normal” activity when he suddenly realized that he couldn’t actually accomplish the task like he wanted to. In that moment, he remembers his frustration level escalating quickly. His wife came to bring him inside, where she sat with him and calmed him down. He recalls his wife telling him they should “have a discussion about this, but not right now.” The next day, Scott’s wife, Karen, shared with him that she had noticed some instances of cognitive decline in him recently, as had some of his friends and people within the congregation at their church.
Scott and his wife agreed that he should talk with his doctor very soon. Scott’s doctor recommended what he called a memory mapping of his brain. About 10 days after the test, Scott’s doctor told him that he had “dementia Alzheimer’s.” Scott remembers going back in to get the medications his doctor recommended he get started on and asking his doctor, “Are you sure?” because it was such a sudden shock to him. His doctor assured him the diagnosis was accurate.
Scott credits the early diagnosis that gave him an advantage on the disease. Other than immediately beginning on medications, Scott knew he needed to educate himself on dementia and Alzheimer’s. This led him to contact the Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association. Scott, along with his family members, began attending workshops provided by the association. While taking the workshops, Scott heard of the association’s need of volunteers to be community educators, so he began to volunteer. With his background and love of both teaching and public teaching this was a perfect fit for him. Scott teaches workshops on various topics for the association at libraries, assisted living facilities, and more.
Scott said that he has learned many things through attending and teaching these workshops. Possibly the most important is to know the warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s and to address them immediately. He has also gotten the opportunity to become an advocate as well. In March, Scott was at the Ohio Statehouse for Advocacy Day for the Alzheimer’s Association. Scott and about 90 other individuals all had appointments to meet with state senators and state representatives and aides to advocate and tell their stories.
Scott said, “It’s nice that I’ve received this award, but I’m really just wanting to be effective and get the message out about this disease.” He added, “It’s about getting that transparency out there that it’s not the end all to end all, and if you can get on the medication to address those symptoms it’s helpful.”
The 10 warning signs for Alzheimer’s along with more information and resources for both people with the disease and their caregivers can be found at https://www.alz.org.
Reach the writer at UDCeditor@aimmediamidwest.com.