Caregivers and care partners working with family members living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease often find themselves dealing with challenges they never expected – and solutions they couldn’t have imagined.

Beverley was living in Vancouver B.C. when her mother, who lives in Florida, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018.

Trying to ensure her mom was maintaining her health meant that Beverly needed to understand some of the big changes that were happening for her mother. Beverly knew that she needed help in order to be of help to her mom, but didn’t know where to turn.

That’s when Beverly did what so many of us do these days – she picked up her iPhone and searched the app store for a tool that could help. And that’s when she found the Dementia Advisor App produced by the Cyril & Dorothy, Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training.

“When I first saw the app, I thought since it was free and from a reputable source, it was worth a look,” says Beverly. “It was frustrating trying to communicate with my mom, and I really needed any help I could find.”

The app is based on the Reitman Centre CARERS Program, a clinically effective 8-week group intervention that has helped hundreds of family caregivers since 2009. The focus of both the app and the CARERS Program is on practical skills-based tools and the emotional support needed to provide care for family members with dementia.

The Dementia Advisor App has become invaluable for Beverly, increasing her awareness of what to expect from someone experiencing dementia. “The app has taught me to understand my mother’s needs and what to expect from her behaviour,” Beverly explains. The Dementia Advisor app uses common scenarios that relate to the real-life experiences of caregivers. Beverly says that using the app “is like homework – after going through the modules you can ground yourself in some awareness of what dementia is, and how it plays out. That way you are better prepared to be helpful, and can deal with difficult feelings.”

The format of the app was also really helpful for Beverly. She adds, “It was more accessible to me than a book. Because a book is static and the app is dynamic. The app actually responds to you.”

The Reitman Centre is a recognized leader in caring for the caregivers of people living with dementia. They provide comprehensive services and support that benefit caregivers and their family members with dementia, as well as health professionals caring for people with dementia.

The Dementia Advisor app is available for free on Apple and Android phones and is also available in French. Visit DementiaCarers.ca to download.

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