New program to help Alzheimer’s, dementia caregivers

Information is the most powerful tool. That rings especially true for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, many of whom lack formal training. Naples Senior Center at JFCS is dedicated to filling that knowledge gap through a new series of Caregiver Boot Camps provided at no charge through a Southwest Florida Community Foundation grant.

The workshops will provide caregivers with education on caregiving techniques, strategies for relieving stress and tips on managing daily activities, plus discussion and social support with other caregivers. They’ll also learn ways to engage their loved ones through simple means like card games, word puzzles and music.

“It’s part of our mission to empower caregivers with the tools they need to improve the quality of life not just for their loved ones, but for themselves as well,” says Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, President/CEO of Naples Senior Center at JFCS. “Based on our research and the initial boot camp we conducted, we know these workshops will accomplish that for people in Southwest Florida.”

The first Caregiver Boot Camp, held on March 13, elicited rave reviews. The more than two dozen caregivers who took part said that they liked the program, felt it was beneficial, were extremely likely to attend another Caregiver Boot Camp and would recommend it to a friend.

More than 80 percent of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia would like more support with caregiving, and two out of three caregivers feel isolated or alone, according to Alzheimer’s Association research. Approximately 22,000 people in the greater Naples area have been diagnosed with some form of dementia, meaning the issue is a critical local concern.

Naples Senior Center at JFCS also provides direct help to community members with early to mid-stage dementia through eight weekly dementia respite groups that promote overall wellness, language skills, memory techniques, relaxation techniques, socialization and building self-esteem. The Caregiver Boot Camps go hand-in-hand with the dementia respite program to address the full scope of the impact dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have on the community.

Caregivers are often short on time, so the boot camps last only half a day, and lunch is complimentary. On-site care for loved ones is also provided. The next boot camp will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Thursday, June 14. Space is limited, so to book a spot or obtain more information, call 239-325-4444 and ask for Anne Chernin.