Whether you have school-age children, grandchildren or none at all, you are aware that Back to School season is upon us. Even if the summer harvest of heat and produce continues in your community, the start of school is a signal for transition. Living with dementia has its own transitions, many of which we encounter with little to no preparation or schooling. Allow the Back to School season motivate you to seek education to assist you in caregiving.
Research has defined education to be key to sustaining one’s self as a dementia caregiver.1 Whether you seek education from the internet, a local Arden Courts, the library, a memory clinic—seeking it is important to both you and your loved one with dementia.
Studies have shown that internet-based supportive interventions can improve caregiver well-being, confidence, and self-efficacy. This is particularly true when the interventions are tailored to the individual and are made of multiple components.2 Tailoring could be specific to family or individual or specific to type of dementia. An older study reports that the least effective caregiver education is peer-led, or simply support group referral.3 Although emotional support is good, look for resources that are dedicated to proven methods and strategies.
Back to school for dementia caregiving may involve hitting the books. Reading about others who have been on the caregiving journey will help you navigate obstacles that they may have found challenging. A study of educational support showed that caregivers are thirsty for information on the progression of dementia and symptoms as well as any measures available to slow progression.3 The individuals with dementia found education about progression gave them motivation to live.4 Caregivers improved their skills at dealing with symptoms from the educational support.
As you walk the path, you will find that time is less available so your Back to School energies demand premier education. Seek the credentials, the experience, and the longevity as well as the program, class, book, or internet course that will give you the components research has validated. Successfully navigating dementia as either a caregiver or an individual with dementia will require a secondary education like no other. But the very pursuit of that knowledge promises to make the journey easier.