The Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center, a non-profit organization serving the Triangle area and beyond, has recently begun offering their dementia training course online. The course, entitled, “Do You Know Who I Am?”, is free of charge for family caregivers. It provides a unique approach to caregivers by assisting them in empathizing and communicating with their dementia patients or loved ones, instead of focusing solely on the medical aspect of dementia.
While the training course was originally provided for professional caregivers, Nicole Bruno, executive director and co-founder of Guiding Lights, along with founder Julie Falconer, noticed a lack of resources available for family members providing care to loved ones suffering from dementia symptoms. They wanted to offer a cost-free and easily accessible resource to those family members. The online version of the course is tailored specifically for family caregivers: It gives them a “bird’s eye view” of what their loved one is experiencing going through dementia, said Bruno.
The video provides communication techniques, and a display, incorporating dummies, of how to approach people with dementia. The dummies take on roles within the video, with ‘Dolores’ acting as caregiver and ‘Delilah’ taking on the role of patient. This brings an interactive approach into the online course, giving caregivers a chance to see the problems that can be encountered in communicating with those suffering from dementia, and how to go about solving such problems.
Along with the empathy and communication focus that is central to the video, “Do You Know Who I Am?” focuses on seeing past the symptoms of dementia and focusing on what roles the patient had prior to their diagnosis. Incorporating hobbies and activities that were enjoyable before dementia set in can improve the patients’ quality of life and sense of belonging, according to Guiding Lights’ Dementia Training Workbook.
The Dementia Training Workbook not only offers supplemental information to the online video, but also provides staggering statistics: Almost fifty percent of those over the age of eighty-five suffer from Alzheimer’s. Today, over five million people are living with the disease, and the rate of diagnosis is growing.
To access the online video or learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and how you can help, visit Guiding Lights’ website at www.GuidingLightsNC.org.