Caregiver Training: What You Need to Know

(BrightFocus Foundation)  Family caregivers often ask how to find training to properly care for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. This article summarizes what you need to know and where to obtain this information.

Whether from a family caregiver who is new to caregiving, or from one who has been caring for someone further into their disease process, geriatric professionals are frequently asked for advice by family caregivers. New caregivers may want to understand what they are getting into, and more experienced caregivers may have realized there is more to it than they had first expected.

Regardless of the timing, seeking out additional education and training is a smart step to take as a family caregiver. With Alzheimer’s and related dementias having unique characteristics, specific education and training, including how to help someone with their activities of daily living—i.e. feeding, bathing, dressing, etc, will help you prepare for the many challenges of these diseases.

Building Your Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Knowledge—What You Need to Know and Where You Can Find It

A good starting place is to build a fundamental knowledge of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Doing so will build the foundation for an effective caregiver. To start, your learning should include the following:

Where Can I Get Answers to My Questions?

  • Your loved one’s physician: the medical professional who manages the medical care and/or their Alzheimer’s or dementia is your partner in this caregiving journey. As the loved one’s physician, they can help you understand the illness, and be a guide through the specific challenges you may encounter.
  • Independent study: work independently to seek knowledge of the illness. Read books, research online information, and seek out local resources such as caregiver support groups. Each has a place in your education and support as an Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiver.

Learning Online

The internet abounds with information, and finding online information about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may be the easier part of one’s caregiving education. Some credible online resources include:

  • brightfocus.org/alzheimers: the BrightFocus Foundation’s mission is to drive innovative research worldwide and promote awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma
  • alzheimers.acl.gov: this is the federal government’s website about Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
  • nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers/caregiving: the National Institute on Aging is the aging research arm of the National Institute of Health.

Local and Community Resources

Your local Area Agency on Aging or the Aging and Adult Services in your city or county are the go-to resources at the local level. These agencies have knowledge of local public and private resources, and of training that may be available to caregivers.

Connecting to local resources will also give you the chance to connect with other local caregivers. You can learn from one another, and create a support system for yourselves and others. Caregiving is easier when we give each other support.

Eldercare Locator:  www.eldercare.gov/eldercare.NET/Public/index.aspx

Honing Your Caregiving Skills with Hands-on Training

Once you’ve got the knowledge, and you know where to go for additional help and support, how do you develop the skills to care for someone with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia?

Knowledge of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is fundamental, but learning and practicing the skills you need in the daily course of caregiving will help you in the actual moments as a caregiver.  Practice will help you build skills and competence. Some resources for caregiver training follow below.

Keep Your Knowledge, Skills and Training Growing

Alzheimer’s and dementia research is an area of medicine that is constantly evolving. There is always new information, new research findings, and new training opportunities. One way to keep your knowledge fresh and current is to subscribe to any of the many newsletters that are available from online sources, such as those above, and at brightfocus.org.

Resources:

Citation
https://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/article/what-training-do-i-need-care-someone-alzheimers-or-other-dementia

Kathleen Allen, LCSW, C-ASWCM, Senior Care Management Services, LLC

Copyright 2017 BrightFocus Foundation. All rights reserved.