Savvy Caregiver in Indian Country

IA2 is offering Program Leader training for Savvy Caregiver in Indian Country for professionals who want to teach the Savvy Caregiver program to family caregivers in their tribal and urban Indian health communities. This training is part of the IA2 work for the American Indian and Alaska Native Brain Health Initiative.

Savvy Caregiver for Indian Country Program Leader training is designed for professionals (advocates, community health workers, public health staff, etc.) working with American Indian and Alaska Native caregivers who care for an elder with memory loss and thinking problems (dementia). One of the main themes of the Savvy Caregiver in Indian Country Trainer’s Manual is to teach family caregivers to know the stage of dementia corresponding to their loved one’s functioning. Knowing how to determine the stage allows the caregiver to use activates and tasks that fit the elder’s changing abilities.

About the Savvy Caregiver for Indian Country Program Leader Training

Taught by Dr. J. Neil Henderson (Choctaw), the train-the-trainer program proceeds through a series of exercises sessions participants (future Program Leaders) will be trained to lead and brief talks you will provide in local community sessions.

Picture of Dr. J. Neil Henderson

Dr. J. Neil Henderson, Savvy Caregiver for Indian Country Program Leader Trainer

The program has been designed to take advantage of your experience with caregivers, caregiver support groups, and/or other group and teaching situations.

The major skills you need to lead the program are those of group facilitation. If you bring expertise in the area of Alzheimer’s and dementia, that is a plus. The program materials supply the information participants need about the disease. The amount that you will be called upon to “lecture” about these things will be minimal.

Click here to review the original Savvy Caregiver for Indian Country manuals (Part 1 and Part 2) developed by Dr. Henderson.

About the Savvy Caregiver for Indian Country Program

The Savvy Caregiver for Indian Country program is a training program for caregivers. It is based on the notion that family members who become caregivers assume a role — caregiving — for which they are unprepared and untrained. Family caregivers occupy a critical place in the health care system for persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementing diseases. In fact, they are the center of the system — or, in most cases, the non-system. The community training program generally entails six two-hour meetings, held weekly.

Caregivers are the real leader of this training program. The program is modeled on programs that have been proven in field-tests to successfully increase caregiver confidence and reduce the adverse effects of caregiving. Savvy, itself, has undergone extensive field-testing and has likewise shown itself to improve caregiving confidence and reduce caregivers’ sense of distress. The program aims to help instill or increase a caregiver’s sense that they understand that caregiving is a new role that they have assumed and that they are effective in this role.

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. Knowing how to determine the stage allows the caregiver to use activates 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, through this training, caregivers have a better quality of life and are not as easily stressed because the elder is involved in daily life in ways that fit their changing abilities.

The program focuses on helping caregivers to acquire and strengthen knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are appropriate for the role they have undertaken. How caregivers understand and interpret the situation they’re in, the kind of knowledge they have about what the disease is doing to their persons, the strategies they can bring to bear on the situation (strategies are skills and techniques that are informed by knowledge and improved through practice), and how competent or masterful they feel in the situation (how confident of their ability to manage the situation).


The 5-year U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded project establishes IA2 as a national hub for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias american-indian(ADRD) information resources serving Indian country. IA2 will provide training, technical assistance, and resources for tribes, tribal leadership, healthcare and public health staff, Urban Indian Health Centers and organizations, and tribal elder services advocates across the country.

Activities are designed to advance community engagement and help build capacity among tribes and tribal member-serving organizations, promote healthy cognitive aging strategies across the lifespan, and foster dementia-capable tribal communities.

This webpage is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $348,711 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.