PART ONE: Introduction for Indian Country
Section A: Orientation and Using the Manual
The Savvy Caregiver in Indian Country Trainer’s Manual is designed for use by all American Indian and Alaska Native people caring for an elder with memory loss and thinking problems, referred to as dementia. “Dementia” is a general term for brain diseases that lead to increasing memory loss and thinking problems. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the types of dementia. This manual will use the word “dementia” because it applies to many brain diseases that cause memory and thinking problems.
The original Savvy Caregiver Program was developed and tested in urban areas with members of the majority population. Testing showed that it was a very good way to teach caregivers the best skills for achieving “contented involvement” for the elder with dementia. Contented involvement occurs when elders with dementia participate with the family at their level of ability. The course will teach caregivers how to know at what level of ability the elder is functioning and what types of activities are best at that time.
Of course, caregiving is a “two-way street.” The Savvy concept helps caregivers have less stress because the elder with dementia is involved in daily life in ways that fit their changing abilities. One of the main themes of the Savvy Caregiver in Indian Country Trainer’s Manual is to teach caregivers to know the stage of dementia corresponding to their loved one’s functioning. The stage of dementia changes over time. Knowing how to determine the stage allows the caregiver to use activities and tasks that fit the elder’s changing abilities. This results in more hours of contented involvement for the elder and much less upset. Also, caregivers have a better quality of life because they are not as heavily stressed.
Since caregiving is a difficult and time-consuming role, caregivers may need encouragement to set aside the time for this valuable class. It is a good idea for Savvy Trainers to explain why and how the course will help caregivers. To help you do this, a Supplement is included at the end of Part One entitled “Benefits of Taking the Savvy Course.”
Using the Manual
You will notice blue pages and white pages throughout the PDF of the Savvy Caregiver in Indian Country Trainer’s Manual. White pages show you the original Savvy training program information. Blue pages are new additions that give you specific thoughts about teaching the Savvy classes in Indian Country. Read the white pages first to understand the general class structure, then read the blue pages to learn how to adapt the program for your own tribal community.
The manual is divided into two parts. Part One gives an overview of how the Savvy program works (Section B). It is printed on white pages because this is the original program information. It is followed by a very important “mini-course” on Culture and Caregiving (Section C), printed on blue pages because it is written especially for Indian Country.
Section C on Culture and Caregiving shows you how to adapt the Savvy program for any American Indian and Alaska Native culture. The section is only for you and will not be taught to the caregivers. This “mini-course” will help you (1.) recognize cultural factors occurring in family caregiving that may help or detract from quality care, (2.) help caregivers to strengthen useful cultural factors, and (3.) adapt the manual and teaching style to best fit your locale.
Section C teaches you about the importance of culture in caregiving and how to identify parts of culture. American Indian and Alaska Native people have very different cultures and life settings from coast-to-coast so that one, single way of caregiving will not fit well everywhere. There are examples of how important culture can be to the way people think about their problems and how they solve them. There are also pointers on the factors that comprise culture.
Section D describes how the classes are structured, including an overview of your role as a Trainer (Program Leader). Section E “Family First in Indian Country” highlights the importance of family and community in Indian Country. This can help you decide how to modify the class structure or change the sequence of the classes that you teach in your tribal community.
Part Two of the manual gives an outline for each of the six Savvy classes, including references to the PowerPoint slides that you may use when teaching your class sessions. The original Savvy session outline is highlighted in a white box with a “Session Agenda” clipboard icon at the right. But most importantly: each of the six sessions begins with a set of thoughts and information about American Indian and Alaska Native life and caregiving that is relevant to the lessons in that session. These pages are printed on a blue background and are titled, “American Indian/Alaskan Native Savvy Caregiver Trainer Essentials.” You should also modify, delete, or add cultural factors that “best fit” your area.
American Indian and Alaska Native caregivers have very diverse cultures compared to non-natives in the United States. That is the reason that “Culture and Caregiving” has been added to Part One of the Savvy Caregiver in Indian Country Trainer’s Manual. Part Two provides the trainer with a set of thoughts about American Indian and Alaska Native life and ways that are tied to the content of each session. Put Part One and Part Two together, and Indian Country will have one of the most important weapons against dementia found anywhere: informed and able caregivers!