It may take many years from the time that the early signs of dementia become apparent until the person becomes completely dependent on the care and help of others. Many people therefore spend a long time in the role of a family caregiver.
Openness and awareness of the situation can help to improve the ability of family members to cope with their role, partly through receiving support from people around you. Any offers of information, guidance and support are available when you are ready to receive them.
Education and guidance for family members / caregivers
Many municipalities have developed a range of education and guidance services for family members / caregivers, which are often available both to people in the early stages of the disease and in a less demanding situation, and to people who are caring for someone with demanding care needs.
All of these services are intended to equip family members with the skills and information they will need to cope with the new situation they find themselves in, and perform the role of caregivers in accordance with their own wishes. In such cases, it can for example be useful to learn about the various types of dementia, the symptoms and development of the disease and the treatment and services that are available to patients.
Caregiver schools and discussion groups
A caregiver school is a course model with lectures by experienced professionals and group discussions. As a caregiver, you will receive information and support to meet the practical and emotional challenges that come with caring for a person with dementia. In addition to information and advice from professionals, it can be good to meet other people in the same situation and share experiences.
The discussion groups are intended to enable people who are in a difficult life situation to give each other support and get help to find solutions in order to cope with everyday life. The discussion groups are led by a professional.
Most municipalities now offer either their own or inter-municipal caregiver schools, while some municipalities also offer discussion groups. It can often be a good idea to attend a caregiver school while the person with dementia is in the early stages of the disease. Most municipalities do not require you to be caring for someone with demanding care needs in order to participate.
Information about caregiver schools and discussion groups for the family members of people with dementia can be found on the municipalities' websites or by contacting the municipality. In some places, the specialist health service also offers caregiver schools to certain groups of people.
Courses offered to younger relatives of people with dementia
In addition to education offered in each municipality, national courses are also available which are aimed at children and young next of kin and younger people with dementia. These courses are arranged either nationally or regionally:
Learning to cope with dementia
Learning to cope with dementia (aldringoghelse.no, in Norwegian) is a national course offering where people who have developed dementia before the age of 65 take part along with their partner or a close relative. The courses are organised regionally and held over two or three days with accommodation provided.
Time to be young
Time to be young? (aldringoghelse.no, in Norwegian) is a nationwide weekend course for young people aged 18-30 who have a mother or father with dementia. Two courses are held a year, starting on a Friday evening and ending with lunch on Sunday. All travel and accommodation expenses are paid for. Information on dementia aimed at young people as next of kin is also provided.
Who sees me? Summer camp for children
The summer camp Who sees me? (hvemsermeg.no, in Norwegian) is a nationwide service which is offered to children under 18 who take part together with the caregiver parent or another carer.
Other support for family members
All municipalities are required to offer a range of interventions for people who are caring for someone with demanding care needs. This includes:
- education and guidance
- caregiver respite care offerings
- care benefits
Although the municipality's requirement to offer support applies to family members / caregivers of someone with "demanding care needs", many municipalities also offer various forms of support to caregivers who have less extensive care tasks.
This can help relatives cope with the situation and postpone the need for health and care services until the person with dementia has become more ill.
Relevant respite measures that can be provided to family members / caregivers include:
- short-term respite care in nursing homes
- regular scheduled stays, where for example the person with dementia spends two weeks at a nursing
- home and four weeks at home
- respite in your own home
- daytime activities or similar offers in the evening, night or on weekends
- support contact
Where can I find out more?
If you are wondering what services are available in your municipality, you should visit the municipality's website, call the municipality's helpdesk or equivalent or ask your GP.
There are also organisations which can provide advice and support to people with dementia and their family members. For example, you can call the Dementia Helpline (nasjonalforeningen.no, in Norwegian) on 23 12 00 40.