Family caregivers are critical to keeping a person with Alzheimer’s, or a related dementia disease, living in their community for as long as possible. These caregivers may go unexpectedly into this role with mixed amounts of help and support. The help that they provide benefits not only the person but society (by keeping long-term care costs down). However, the experience of caregiving is often times harmful to the caregiver’s physical and emotional health.
Beginning September 13th, for the first time ever, North Shore Elder Services (NSES) is offering a training program for caregivers called The Savvy Caregiver. This program is based on the notion that family members who become caregivers to someone with any type of dementia assume a role for which they are unprepared and untrained for.
Family caregivers are faced with vast amounts of stress. Not only does one have to manage the daily life of keeping the person safe and secure, but one has to deal with their own feelings of sadness and loss. For many caregivers, they also take on added responsibilities within the family and outside of it. For the dementia caregiver, the potential perils of the situation increase. These caregivers are; twice as likely to have health and mental health problems; two-and-a-half times as likely to be taking medications for their nerves; only half as likely to seek medical help for their problems; more likely to feel cut off from their family and friends; and more likely to be pinched financially.
“Savvy” caregiver refers to being someone who is knowledgeable; a person who looks at what is going on and develops strategies to accomplish the best chances for long-term success. By being savvy, the outcome will be a sense of control or mastery. The goal is to find ways to reduce the effects of stress and to increase a sense of satisfaction.
This training program is built around the three main tasks of the caregiver;
- Managing daily life with the person
- Finding and using help with caregiving tasks
- Taking care of oneself
The program will teach caregivers about the disease and how it affects the family member. Dementia threatens the ability to make choices so this training will teach the caregiver how to take control to reduce confusion and provide calm and security. Caregivers will be shown how to focus on setting a goal to provide good quality of life for the person with dementia.
During this training we expect attendees to actively participate. As a caregiver, you can expect the program to expand your knowledge and skills for caregiving. You will feel more sure of your ability to carry out the caregiving role. We want to help you develop a strong sense of confidence in your caregiving abilities.
The Savvy Caregiver is a six week program. The program is geared to informal caregivers of those either living at home or planning to return home, and in a moderate stage of illness. The sessions are once per week for two hours each and are facilitated by two NSES’ trained Practitioners, Kathy Perrella and Molly Pecukonis. The fall program begins Wednesday, September 13 and continues on each Wednesday up to and including October 18. These will be held at North Shore Elder Services at 300 Rosewood Drive, Suite 200, Danvers, MA. Pre-registration is necessary. To register or for any questions, contact Kathy Perrella at 978-624-2214.