Skip to main content

In 2013, a social support group, PALS (Pretty Awesome Ladies), was co-founded by Deborah Hanna and Lynda Lockard to support the social and emotional needs of women managing a dementia diagnosis of their husband or partner, with an initial emphasis on young-onset dementias.

For good reason, PALS is the group nobody wants to join. Yet these women welcome each other with companionship, empathy, and support that is deeply and uniquely experienced. It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking that PALS has grown to be such a haven for so many women.

Aaron Puckett, the founder of Puckett & Sturgill Financial Group in Westminster, made an initial contact with Deborah after one of the PALS women spoke with him during an emotionally charged meeting. Aaron increasingly realized the complexities of financial, emotional, social and physical support that is needed when clients are coping with a memory loss of their loved one, particularly when there is a young onset dementia diagnosis.

With this objective in mind, Aaron made an offer of seed funds to investigate the specific needs of Carroll County’s memory loss community, with the goal to support the development of a non-profit organization specifically to expand on PALS philosophy to meet unserved needs. An energetic group meeting in March 2019 confirmed understanding of specific community needs, and this information became the driving force and foundation for the planning group as they continue to move forward with the establishment of YES! to address the unmet and growing needs of the young onset dementia community in an effective and ongoing manner.

“As YES! evolves, we will continue to promote educational opportunities and community awareness, identify resources, expand support groups, and plan social events to connect families to the young onset dementia community. The hope is to replicate YES! throughout Maryland, and ultimately throughout the country.

Young Onset Dementia families need unique support and resources.


People with young onset dementia may be in their 40s, 50s and early 60s.

These people have families, careers or may even be caregivers themselves when dementia derails their life. The age of people with young onset dementia often means their symptoms of dementia may lead to loss of employment. The implications of unemployment are multiple, and include financial, psychological and social consequences to themselves and their families.

The younger age of those affected by YOD naturally means that their families and support systems are also much younger- they may have school age children, young adult children, or may have a parent as caregiver. Likewise, spouses and partners may find themselves thrown into the role of caregiver much, much earlier than they ever expected.

We are dedicated to the support of different groups affected by young onset dementia:

Children and Teenagers
Young Adult Children
Spouses/Partners (PALS, Men’s Group)