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Caregiver classes coming to the Cape

By Staff | Dec 18, 2014

Help is on the way for a limited number of caregivers in Cape Coral dealing with the care of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

Made possible by a grant from the Cape Coral Community Foundation, the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center in Fort Myers is bringing its Savvy Caregiver Program free of charge to the Cape for the first time. The 12-hour program, delivered in two-hour sessions over a six-week period, starts on Jan. 7 and runs through Feb. 11. Seating is limited so registration is required by calling the resource center by Dec. 24.

“We hope to have 10 to 12 people in each of the two classes,” said the center’s health education specialist Mary Freyre, R.N. “We’re offering a day class and an evening class for those caregivers who also work outside the home.”

The day class will run 2-4 p.m. at Juniper Village, 4920 Viceroy Court. The evening class will run 6-8 p.m. at the Choices in Living Adult Day Care Center, 3812 Skyline Blvd.

Freyre said the resource center’s office will be closed Dec. 25 through Jan. 1. During the closure anyone can leave a voicemail to register for the class by calling 239-437-3007. If the classes are not filled, last-minute registrations will be taken on Jan. 2 only.

“The program is geared to the caregiver dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s no matter what stage the patient is in,” said Freyre. “It’s for the caregiver, not the patient. The main benefit to caregivers is they learn to understand their loved one from a different angle, more of a medical look rather than an emotional one.”

The class develops skills in caregivers as to what they are dealing with. It improves safety for the patient and lowers the stress level in the caregiver, Freyre said.

“When the caregiver learns to cope with the situation, the safety level goes up,” she said. “They learn to engage the patient to become involved within their own skill level. Caregivers learn to identify the approximate level of the patient’s stage of dementia with a basic understanding.”

The two-hour session is loaded with a PowerPoint presentation and lots of discussion. Freyre said video clips are shown. Most of all it opens a caregiver’s eyes to what they are really dealing with.

“We discuss what works and what doesn’t work,” said Freyre. “Each caregiver brings a different perspective to the discussion.”

Some 30 caregivers have gone through the program in Fort Myers and Freyre said the next class there is full with a waiting list.

“Moms and daughters taking care of dad come to this class,” said Freyre. “Sometimes several family members come together. It brings the family closer together to support the primary caregiver.”

Program graduates are ready to help their loved one and that helps the patient as well. She said caregivers learn to recognize when the time comes for placement of the loved one. It also helps avoid a crisis situation, such as the patient getting in the car and driving away unattended.

“A huge benefit of the program is it teaches the caregiver self-care, too,” said Freyre. “They learn to build a partnership with professional care providers so they can have time to take care of themselves.”

The Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center has been providing services since 1995. For more information call 239-437-3007.