BAYADA client with dementia, Mrs. Lila B., her son Bill, and BAYADA CNA Angie Young.

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a time dedicated to focusing on the disease and inspiring action. For BAYADA, the disease is not only in the forefront in November, but throughout the year as well.

BAYADA’s dedication to Alzheimer’s awareness includes education and resources for families, countless sponsored Alzheimer’s walks, participation in dementia programs for the NJ Institute for Successful Aging, and most importantly, invaluable dementia-specific training for caregivers. For one particular client, this specialized training has made all the difference for her—and her family, too.

Mrs. Lila B., a BAYADA client with dementia, was not receptive at first to outside care. “For the longest time, my mother didn’t want outsiders helping her,” said Mrs. B.’s son, Bill. “It was a burden for us.”

Caring for a loved one with dementia is very challenging for the entire family. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association states that nearly 60 percent of caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, and about 40 percent suffer from depression. Among caregivers, 74 percent report they are “somewhat” to “very” concerned about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.

Mrs. B. was referred to the BAYADA Reading, PA office, which has certified nursing assistants and home health aides who have undergone the BAYADA Dementia Specialty Training. To participate in this in-depth training program, caregivers must first be recommended by their supervisors, have a high reliability rating, and successfully complete a pre-screening test. Afterwards, they must pass a post-training evaluation and attend annual trainings to keep current on their knowledge and skills.

“Our training is geared towards communication,” says BAYADA Associate Director Lauren Hirsch. “We focus on educating our caregivers to identify best approaches for providing personal care and appropriate interventions for common/challenging behaviors that are frequently displayed by clients with dementia.”

BAYADA Director Megan Saraceno is head of the Reading office, which provides care for Mrs. Lila B. “Our certified nursing assistant Angie Young has taken the training and proven to be a success with Mrs. B.,” she says. “When Mrs. B. started with us, she wouldn’t let caregivers into the house at first. She has come a long way.”

One of the strategies Angie learned in the class and uses to put Mrs. B. at ease is to present herself as a friend, rather than someone hired to care for her. She may say that she is a friend of her son’s or has come to have breakfast with her. Another technique that can be used by caregivers includes having one aide introduce the other as their friend.

“Mom now greets Angie with hugs, and says goodbye with a hug each day,” says Mrs. B.’s son. “When Angie is around, my mother is stimulated, engaged, and safe. For my siblings, we have great confidence that she is in good hands, and we now enjoy our mother being at home, rather than in a facility.”

To learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia, watch BAYADA Division Director Kristin Kingery answer frequently asked questions in our video series. Stop by Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, November 12 at the Philadelphia Alzheimer’s Walk to hear BAYADA Director Mary Lou Brophy give the keynote address.

For more information about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, call 888-4-BAYADA (888-422-9232.)

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