The starting point of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton/Photo by Douglas Flynn

While providing care and comfort to a loved one can be rewarding, caregiving is also a challenging endeavor. Family caregivers are thrust into roles in which they lack familiarity, experience or training, all while upending their own lives and schedules.

Caregivers can find themselves suddenly serving as nurses, chefs, chauffeurs, financial advisers, and dozens of other roles to help their loved ones through an illness or chronic condition.

But learning how to do some of the specialized tasks asked of them, while also figuring out how to balance those duties with the demands of their own lives to avoid becoming overcome by stress and burning out takes some help.

Fortunately, there are educational programs that can help family caregivers learn to better take care of both their loved ones and themselves.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a six-week educational program designed to help family caregivers. It is based on the highly successful chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Dr. Kate Lorig and her colleagues at Stanford University’s Patient Education Research Center.

This program will help you take care of yourself while caring for a relative or friend. You will benefit from this class whether you are helping a parent, spouse, friend, someone who lives at home, in a nursing home or around the country.

Workshops are facilitated by instructors that are trained and certified as Powerful Tools for Caregivers Class Leaders. These classes are coordinated and presented by Aging Services Access Points in the area – HESSCO, Tri-Valley, and the  Natick Community- Senior Center.

Participants who completed this workshop, added the following praise within their post-workshop surveys:

“I have tools to use and know I am not alone now.”

“The individual topics are exactly what caregivers deal with and [the class] leaders are so knowledgeable.”  

 “I am more aware of my needs and the possibility of help.”

“I’m more equipped to take specific actions. It prompted me to initiate [getting] respite for myself and [to hold] another family meeting.”

“I will take better care of myself. I have a better understanding of emotions.”

Savvy Caregiver

The Savvy Caregiver Program is also a FREE six-session training series for family and friends who are active caregivers of a person with Alzheimer`s or a related dementia.

While this workshop also includes strategies and resources to help family caregivers care for themselves, unlike Powerful Tools for Caregivers the Savvy Caregiver program focuses primarily on helping the caregiver deliver the best possible care to their loved one.

Taking care of a person living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia is specialized work. To do this work successfully, caregivers need special skills, knowledge and a positive attitude that helps them to care for themselves.

The Savvy Caregiver workshop will help you become an expert in caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s or related dementias.

Savvy Caregiver will help you:

  • Understand the impact of dementia on both you and the person you are caring for.
  • Learn the skills you need to manage daily life.
  • Take control and set goals.
  • Communicate more effectively.
  • Strengthen family resources.
  • Feel better about your caregiving.
  • Take care of you.

Workshop leaders and supporting volunteers are trained and certified to teach the Savvy Caregiver workshop. One participant who completed the workshop provided the following comments:

“This has been a wonderful opportunity, a chance to learn and ask questions,” wrote one participant in the post-workshop survey. “Thank you for making this program available. The manual is a good tool that can be shared with other family members.”

“I try to process ‘my challenging times’ with my mom through her eyes, understanding what life is like for her right now,” added the same caregiver about the changes she has made as a result of the Savvy Caregiver training.

Upcoming Workshops

There are several ways you can inquire about an upcoming Powerful Tools for Caregivers or a Savvy Caregiver Workshop:

  • Healthy Living Centers of Excellence (for Savvy Caregiving Workshops)
  • Powerful Tools for Caregivers website
  • Contact Springwell’s Information and Referral services to at 508-573-7200
  • Contact a Caregiver Specialist who can direct you to these workshops as well other beneficial caregiving resources:
    • Springwell’s Caregiver Specialist: 508-573-7239 or 617-926-4100
    • Tri-Valley’s Caregiver Specialist: 508-949-6640
    • HESSCO’s Caregiver Specialist: 781-784-4944