7 back to school tips for care partners

Alberta and Northwest Territories

back to school

It’s easy to forget that going back to school is not just about the impact on students. The back-to-school season can have several impacts on individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

Here are 7 tips and considerations for dementia care partners to keep in mind during this busy time of year:

1. Routine Disruptions: If an individual with dementia is living at home, the return to school for family members, such as children or grandchildren, can disrupt established routines. Individuals with dementia often rely on predictability and consistency in their daily lives, so changes in routines can potentially cause confusion or anxiety.

2. Care partner Adjustments: Caregivers, who are often family members, may have been providing care during the summer months when children were off from school. With the start of the school year, caregivers might need to adjust their schedules and routines to accommodate both caregiving responsibilities and school-related commitments. This can lead to increased stress and time management challenges.

3. Reduced Social Interaction: Individuals with dementia might have been receiving more social interaction during the summer when family members or care partners were more available. With the return to school, the person with dementia might experience reduced opportunities for social engagement, potentially leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

4. Changes in Care partner Availability: If family members or other caregivers are returning to school themselves or going back to work after the summer break, this could impact the amount of time available for caregiving. This might necessitate finding alternative care arrangements, such as in-home assistance.

5. Seasonal Changes: The transition from summer to fall can bring changes in weather, lighting, and daily activities. These changes might affect the person with dementia's mood, behaviour, and overall well-being. Care partners should be mindful of any potential effects these changes might have and adapt as needed.

6. Cognitive Stimulation: For individuals in the early stages of dementia, the back-to-school season could provide opportunities for cognitive stimulation through activities such as reading, puzzles, or engaging in discussions about school-related topics.

7. Respite Opportunities: The return to school might allow care partners brief periods of respite during school hours. They can use this time to engage in self-care, run errands, or take a break. This may organically create opportunities for families to have conversations with young people who may be just beginning to understand the impact cognitive impairment can have on a loved one.

It's important for care partners to anticipate potential challenges during the back-to-school season and plan accordingly. Maintaining a sense of routine and normalcy, providing cognitive and social engagement, and ensuring that the person with dementia's needs are met remain essential considerations. Open communication among family members and caregivers is key to finding solutions that best support both the individual with dementia and those providing care.

For more information and resources for care partners, head to our ASANT Café.