Both family and professional caregivers are on the front lines with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, taking care of them day-in, day-out. They need to know how to most effectively prevent and/or deal with the difficult behaviors, reduce stress, and increase quality of life for the patient, the family and themselves.
Good and talented caregivers will “figure out” effective ways of dealing well with dementia patients through trial and error, intuition and guesswork. But why do we put anyone through such a process? Why require people to make lots of mistakes, and experience exhaustion and despair in that process when we already know a lot about the best standard of day-to-day caregiving?
Why not just teach these skills and concepts to caregivers?
Teach is exactly what we do. While that sounds like a perfectly logical and humane idea, the truth is that most caregivers (family and professional) receive little or no training in dementia care. Additionally, some caregivers were trained in methods that are not only outdated, but can actually make difficult behaviors worse. The right skills are not terribly difficult to learn. Some initial (3 hrs) and more intermediate/advanced training (an additional 3-9 hours), ongoing practice, and a way to troubleshoot specific problems (occasional, or ongoing coaching) as they arise can be nothing short of revolutionary for family and professional caregivers.
We use the Habilitation Therapy curriculum approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Association as a teaching framework, in which Dr. Bier is certified to deliver to both family and professional caregivers. We also add a variety of holistic tools to equip family and professional caregivers to better respond to the dementia patient’s needs, as well as their own. These include Reiki attunements, Jin Shin training, and flower essences.
Each dementia patient, family, and situation are unique. While classroom or small group training are vital tools to learn and use, sometimes customizing skills and methods for a specific case can be highly effective — and necessary at times to bring about a breakthrough in particular situations. These services are offered hourly, and can often be delivered over the phone. If logistically practical, an initial observation/intake session could be done in person.
Given we have millions of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias — and a projected enormous jump in such diagnoses — learning how to effectively and compassionately deal with dementia has become a needed life skill. Dr. Bier is available to do public speaking to both professionals and consumers, and to provide in-service training to staff of hospitals, long- and short-term care facilities, Councils on Aging, and more. She can offer CEUs for nurses.
Dr. Bier is an accomplished and much-published author. She is available for assignments for your publication or organization. See some of her articles on aging, Alzheimer’s and dementia here.