Savvy Caregiver Dementia Training Returns in March

A free training program that provides family caregivers with skills and knowledge about dementia is returning to Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) in March.

Registration is now open for the next round of Savvy Caregiver training, which starts March 23. SCES social worker and Savvy Caregiver instructor Nathaniel Meyer recently discussed the program on Somerville Local Access Television, and he said the research-based program is tailored to help family caregivers navigate the many challenges of dementia.

“A major focus of the program is that caregiving is often a role that people were not expecting and not prepared for,” said Meyer. “Much of the training is geared toward developing knowledge and working on strategies that will help the caregiver.”

Understanding dementia, its various stages, and how its progression can impact daily life is an important first phase of the program, added licensed social worker and Savvy Caregiver Instructor Liz Aguilo.

“Memory loss isn’t just about forgetting where your keys are, it also has an impact on how you function,” said Aguilo. “Things we take for granted– like making a meal– there’s a lot of little steps in there, and if you’re losing some cognitive ability, it can have a large impact.”

“If you don’t understand how that works, you’re setting yourself and the person you’re caring for up for frustration,” continued Aguilo. “But once you understand what’s happening, you can intervene in a way that sets things up for success, both for you and person you’re taking care of.”

Savvy Caregiver is geared toward understanding the middle and late-early stages of dementia. While there is a lecture component to the class, Meyer said it’s also highly interactive.

“I think one important aspect of Savvy Caregiver is learning to turn the theoretical learning into action,” said Meyer. “During our last round of training, some of the later classes really focused on how the students were applying knowledge from the class to better help the people they’re caring for.”

Aguilo and Meyer also discussed local resources that can help with dementia.

The six-week Savvy Caregiver class will meet Fridays from 9-11:30, starting on March 23. The free classes are open to a limited number of participants, allowing the caregivers to work closely with the facilitators. Subsidized respite options are also available to some caregivers.

For more information or to register, call SCES at 617-628-2601 or email