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Caring for Caregivers Who Deal with Dementia

A decorative image featuring a picture of a statue of Rosalynn Carter next to a brown box with white lettering including her quote: "There are only four kinds of people in the world; those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers."

First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s caregiver quote includes just about everyone, right?

Last month, the Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) for Caregivers celebrated 36 years of promoting the health, strength, and resilience of family caregivers. They acknowledged that 53 million Americans serve as caregivers to older adults, individuals who are ill, and those who live with disabilities.

I am a caregiver and many of my colleagues and friends are caregivers. I am humbled by their stories and their courage in providing the necessary support to loved ones, family, and friends.

When I heard about a program—Dealing with Dementia—that addresses dementia caregivers specifically, I reached out to the Carter Institute to learn more.

Dealing with Dementia is a four-hour interactive workshop that helps caregivers understand dementia, manage problem behaviors, and most importantly, address the importance of self-care. Workshop participants have demonstrated increased knowledge about dementia and have learned tools that help with dementia caregiving.

Since there is such a need in the community for caregiver support, particularly support for caregivers offering love and support to people living with dementia, I requested and was able to get trained, thanks to generous support from the Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Network and Age Friendly Seattle. Now other nurses have been trained to facilitate Dealing with Dementia workshops as well.

Some of the places these workshops have been offered include Aegis at Greenwood, Aegis at Marymoor, Renton Senior Center, Salvation Army Temple, Southeast Senior Center, and Verdant in Lynnwood. Future workshops will be offered at African American Reach and Teach Health (AARTH), Edmonds Senior Center, the Memory Hub, NEST, and the Tulalip Tribe.

Some of the positive comments received include:

  • “I am learning, this is all new and the information was helpful.”
  • “Excellent workshop in all aspects. Thank you!”
  • “Enjoyed the workshop and the Dealing with Dementia Guidebook.”
  • “I wish I got this before I started caring for my loved ones. The preparation would have been nice to have versus trying to figure things out on my own.”

I want to thank Tyler, Dana, and Elle at the Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Network (ACN) for their support to date. We are so grateful to Age Friendly Seattle as well as some Aegis Living communities for their continued support and are looking for additional sponsors to cover the cost of books and facilitator stipends.

Carol RedfieldContributor Carol Redfield, DNP, MN, RN—a nurse since 1979—is on the nursing faculty at Seattle Pacific University. She spent over three decades as an oncology nurse and, for the last 10 years, she has focused on gerontology. She is passionate about supporting older adults and caregivers of those people living with dementia.