Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers recently offered dementia care training to new volunteers in its Time for You Program.
The training was held July 26 at Family Worship Assembly in Black River Falls and gave 16 volunteers and other individuals who work in area nursing home and elderly care facilities important caregiving skills.
Sharlene Bellefeuille, community outreach specialist from the Alzheimer’s Association, conducted the presentation entitled “Effective Communication Strategies.”
“Individuals with dementia cannot change to meet our needs – we must meet them where they are,” she said. “The Alzheimer’s Association has many great resources and you can call them with any questions, big or small.”
Interfaith’s Time for You Respite Program assists individuals with dementia and their caregivers. It is one of several programs that Interfaith offers in Jackson County and surrounding areas that serve older adults and people with disabilities.
“Many of our volunteers have cared for a loved one with dementia and want to be able to help others. Learning effective communication techniques through the stages of dementia is important for people working with individuals with memory loss,” said Shawn Callisto, Time for You’s program coordinator.
“I wished I had these resources when my husband was living with dementia,” said Yvonne Richard, one of the Time for You volunteers.
“Dementia caregivers frequently report having high levels of stress. Too much stress can be harmful both physically and mentally to the caregiver, possibly causing burnout,” Callisto stated. “As a caregiver, it is important for you to take care of yourself so that you can continue to be an effective companion.”
Bellefeuille reminded volunteers that individuals with dementia can still be engaged, and programs like Time for You offer that engagement. After Bellefeuille’s presentation, Callisto shared the daily routine at Time for You and how volunteers are a vital part of this program.
“Time for You offers one on one activities for participants, so having enough volunteers is essential,” Callisto said.
The Time for You program provides a homestyle meal for participants and volunteers in an effort to create a warm environment and allow volunteers and participants to start their time together.
Lori Chown, Interfaith’s program director, said the program continues to grow and has 10 participants, making volunteer engagement essential.
“It will be nice to have additional volunteers to call on. We still have openings for participants at Time for You. If you are caring for someone who has memory issues, they could greatly benefit from the Time for You Program,” she said. “It provides participants with engaging activities, helps them feel less isolated, and gives them a sense of meaning again.”
Interfaith also invited staff from area nursing homes and assisted living facilities to join them for the presentation and training.
“Many of our community partners are interacting with individuals with memory issues as well. Sharing the resources and training opportunities helps all of us,” Chown said.
Families who are interested in the Time for You program can call Interfaith to schedule an intake screening with Callisto. Once the screening is completed, participants can sign up for Tuesdays or Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It is important that families let Interfaith know which days they will be attending because the program relies on volunteers’ time.
“That does not mean they have to arrive at 11:30, or stay until 3:30. It just confirms they will be attending sometime that day. With a program like this, you want to keep it small and relaxed. We can accommodate up to eight participants a day, and then we would need to make sure we have enough volunteers to meet that need,” Chown said. “The training was an important step in allowing us to have more participants. The community support is essential. Donations of people’s time, talents, or financial resources will help Interfaith continue to grow and offer valuable programs to our community.”
For more information on Interfaith or Time for You, call Interfaith at (715) 284-7058.