An innovative educational program starting in early March will help caregiving family members from Fort St. James 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,” explains project leader Dr. Penny MacCourt, from the Centre on Aging at University of Victoria.
“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, says MacCourt.
The choice or 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.
The format also provides participants with choice of location; they can work from anywhere that has a telephone or an internet connection. And they are assured of full anonymity and confidentiality.
Interested caregivers in the Fort St. James area can choose from four options:
• A telephone group running Mondays from March 14 through April 18, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.;
• A telephone group running Thursdays from March 17 through April 24, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.;
• An online group running Tuesdays from March 8 through April 12 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.;
• An online group running Tuesdays from March 8 through April 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Interested residents must pre-register for the program by contacting MacCourt toll-free at 1-877-244-0419. She will explain the research project, answer any questions, and provide assessment forms that are 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,” says 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 says.
The program is supported by the Alzheimer Society of B.C.