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Workshop offers strategies for caregivers of dementia patients

Emory Report | May 4, 2015

"Strategies for a Loved One with Dementia" will be Thursday, May 14, at noon in Room 101 of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

This workshop will be facilitated by Emory WorkLife specialist Mary Ellen Nessmith. Nessmith serves as the point of contact for the Emory Caregiver Support Program at the Emory WorkLife Resource Center.

The workshop is an abbreviated version of the Savvy Caregiver Program, an educational program that has been shown, in a randomized trial, to reduce dementia family caregiver stress. Ken Hepburn, professor in the School of Nursing and Education Core director of Emory's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, developed the Savvy Caregiver Program.

The workshop has three major goals:

  • to provide participants with an understanding of the ways in which Alzheimer's disease and similar dementias progressively affect a person's abilities to use cognitive powers, control emotions and behaviors, and carry out everyday tasks and activities.
  • to show participants that there is a reasonable goal for caregiving and way of judging that goal — one that is aimed at the person's comfort and that doesn't cause caregivers to beat themselves up.
  • to offer practical suggestions about how family members might communicate and develop care strategies that acknowledge and take into account the losses that are produced by the disease.

“Due to the increasing number of dementia diagnoses in the United States, this is an issue that is touching everyone either personally or professionally," says Nessmith. "It is critical caregivers of those with dementia related diseases have the support and tools to manage the care of their loved ones."

"We, at Emory, are lucky to have Ken Hepburn as a resource providing this education within our community," she adds. "Attending this workshop not only introduces you to proven techniques in managing caregiving issues, it allows you to spend time with other caregivers and benefit from their experience and knowledge.”