Caregiving is a serious occupation that requires an almost bottomless amount of compassion, patience and sensitivity. Sadly though, not all caregivers are taught how to behave around patients or the elderly who have disabilities or are suffering from a terminal illness. For many, caregiving may be an unexpected occupation that requires them to juggle work and their personal life while taking care of a close family member. Boot camps aim to educate caretakers and prepare them for the task of caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s.
What Happens in Boot Camps
It is estimated that there are 34.3 million caregivers in the US, according to AARP. Caregivers face a lot of stress, anxiety, financial and physical challenges when caring for an elderly person. Programs such as boot camps are designed to assist caregivers prepare better for their duties in caring for the elderly.
For example, UCLA’s boot camp is a crash course in caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. It is a one-day course exposing caretakers to various scenarios that can occur when looking after a patient or a loved one. Hired actors pretend they have Alzheimer’s and family members learn through role-playing how to react to a given situation. It also imparts tips and techniques to keep the elderly safe. Stress management and keeping seniors engaged are learnt during the intensive course.
In a less formal setting, caregivers may receive support through their local Alzheimer’s associations. Individual counselors’ role play with caregivers and simulate possible scenarios. An active online community also connects caretakers with others who are in the same situation providing a place to exchange ideas, swap stories or receive moral support. Educational programs are run which target specific groups such as family caregivers, individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia and community clusters.
Another type of boot camp for caregivers are short seminars on caregiving where several speakers are invited to talk about aging and disabilities, the needs of patients, medications, abuse prevention or financing. These workshops may run for a few hours a day and might last up to a month. Topics may even be tailored to suit the needs of the participating audience.
The bottom line is, there are many possible situations that can come up when caring for an older adult with Alzheimer’s which is affecting an estimated 5 million Americans. By 2050, this number could reach up to 16 million (Alzheimer’s Association). Teaching caregivers how to respond to different scenarios will not only protect the elderly, but also reduce the physical and mental stress levels of those looking after them.