Caregivers sought for new program helping them cope with transitions in dementia

  • Feb. 14, 2011 5:00 a.m.

submitted by Dr. Penny MacCourt, Centre on Aging at University of Victoria–An innovative educational program starting in March will help care giving family members from Haida Gwaii deal with the loss and grief issues associated with dementia.”The dementia journey requires ongoing adjustment to many changes over a long period of time that result in feelings of loss,” said project leader Dr. Penny MacCourt, from the Centre on Aging at UVic. “You are witnessing the progression of your family member’s dementia. The progression results in many changes: in your relationship, in shared activities, in roles and responsibilities, in dreams and plans for the future, and in living circumstances, to name just a few.”The new Coping with Transitions program will connect residents with a skilled registered coach with extensive knowledge and experience in counselling caregivers of people with a dementia.Coaching is being offered in both online and telephone group formats, allowing participants to share experiences and to learn from each other, said Dr. MacCourt.The choice of phone or online groups provides convenience, since participants don’t have to leave their homes, and accessibility, which is vital for those living in rural areas.It also provides participants with choice of location; they can work from anywhere with a telephone or internet connection. And they are assured of full anonymity and confidentiality.Interested caregivers can choose from four options:. A telephone group Mondays from March 14 – April 18, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.;. A telephone group Thursdays from March 17 – April 24, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.;. An online group Tuesdays from March 8 – April 12 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.;. An online group Tuesdays from March 8 – April 12 from 7 to 8:30 pm.Interested residents must pre-register by contacting Dr. MacCourt at 1-877-244-0419. She’ll explain the research project, answer questions, and provide assessment forms required before the first meeting.Coping with Transitions aims to identify tools and strategies for weathering the losses and provide a greater number of options for caregivers to better meet their needs.”There is relatively little information about grief, or how to address it, associated with progressive cognitive decline or dementia,” said Dr. MacCourt. “Unattended caregiver grief can compound other stressors and increase caregiver distress and negative health consequences.”Increased access to support will benefit families and may delay the need for placement for their family members with dementia, she said.The program is supported by the Alzheimer Society of BC.