Let’s begin with a reality check – and the unfortunate truth for many of those living with dementia – the majority of care is typically done by non-professional caregivers such as family and friends. This, along with the overwhelming complexity of the disease, can cause worry and anxiety for whoever is responsible. 

Dementia Care: A labor of love. A unique challenge.

Far too often, we see that caring for someone with dementia is an undertaking that is too overwhelming even for professionals. This disease is different from others in that there is no “script” that caretakers follow. Dementia’s unique needs make it one of the more challenging, time-consuming, and costly conditions to care for. That being said, caregivers need help!

Moving beyond an ideal world scenario.

In the best-case scenario, you would have experienced professional care managers who would devote the necessary time to get to know the unique characteristics of the individuals living with dementia, including their family dynamic. But this isn’t always the case, due to financial issues, case load volume, and the lack of training and resources. 

But, there is good news…. you can make a meaningful impact without the need for complex, large-scale programs. Starting with smaller, bite-sized chunks of information delivered at the right time can be a very effective way to address caregiver support.

A thorough assessment and care plan performed by a qualified professional should always be a priority. Until then, there are things you can do to make an impact.

What are caregivers really looking for?

Research has found that caregivers have three critical needs:  

  1. Timely access to information
  2. Access to information that is tailored or specific to the caregiver’s needs
  3. Usable information that can directly inform how caregivers manage behavior

Studies have shown a 50% reduction in caregiver burden when appropriate education was made available to family caregivers. These facts further assist our claims that a well-equipped caregiver will improve the quality of work for your affected loved one while keeping the caregiver’s needs at heart as well. 

By limiting what you’re asking the caregiver to do, you increase the chance of them actually taking the appropriate steps required. 

What does it take to support a caregiver?

Based on our findings, we recommend a simple, yet effective four-part approach that utilizes multi‐component interventions.

  1. Training care professionals to develop a thorough understanding of dementia.
  2. Fostering relationships, establishing ongoing trust, and gathering relevant information through the early and ongoing use of in-person, telephonic or video conferencing care management. 
  3. Providing tools to help identify and address caregiver stresses, such as the AlzBetter Dementia Care Program offered through Home to Stay
  4. Offering educational materials and support that’s both easy for care professionals to administer – and easy for caregivers to utilize. 

Starting small empowers caregivers.

When we start with small, achievable interventions, we can actually empower caregivers and healthcare professionals to positively affect change while working within the constraints that may be imposed upon them. In the journey to find more win-win type situations in health care, small starts can have a huge impact in the way forward.