Something about the Savvy?
June 1, 2017

So you may have heard about a new training being offered in Massachusetts called The Savvy Caregiver.

The Healthy Living Center of Excellence located at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley is facilitating and coordinating all of the Savvy Caregiver Trainings along with the leaders who have been trained throughout the state. Cindy Hession–Richard, Caregiver Advisor from the Family Caregiver Support Program at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley sat down with Crystal Polizzotti, Caregiver Coordinator at the Healthy Living Center of Excellence to talk about the Savvy Caregiver Training Program and the caregivers that will benefit. Ms Polizzotti is trained as a savvy practitioner and has already assisted with the education of more than a dozen leaders around the state in the program. The Healthy Living Center of Excellence is also overseeing the implementation the classes as they happen. In the Merrimack Valley, more than 20 caregivers have completed the trainings in Lawrence and Methuen. There is another training scheduled in Lowell that will be starting in June. Here is the interview with Ms Polizzotti.

Q. Hi Crystal, So let’s talk Savvy, What is the Savvy Caregiver Training about and who should sign up?
A. Hi Cindy, The Savvy Caregiver program is a free 6 session training for active, informal caregivers who care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or Related Dementias who is living at home. The program is facilitated by 1 or 2 trained practitioners and it is based on the notion that family members or friends who become caregivers need to be trained as professionals for this new role, which they are typically unprepared for. To be successful caregiver special skills, knowledge, and a positive attitude is necessary to help them care for themselves as well as their friend or loved one. Caregivers caring for those living in the community and in the moderate stages of the disease can benefit from this training.

Q. What kind of education and information will be provided?
A. Throughout the training the central concept that is emphasized is strategy, caregivers will be urged to learn, develop and modify strategies so they can accomplish their role or caregiving. Contented involvement is a major focus of the Savvy Caregiver Program, which means keeping your friend or loved one happy, calm and engaged in activities appropriate to where they are in the disease. The program builds information and knowledge about the illness, helping develop skills to manage daily life, and foster a new attitude towards their caregiving.

Q. How long has Savvy Training been around?
A. In 1998 the University of Minnesota worked with staff from the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota to develop a prototype of the Savvy Caregiver Program. The authors of the manual are Kenneth Hepburn, Marsha Lewis, Jane Tornatore, Carey Sherman, and Judy Dolloff. By the spring of 1999 volunteer trainers began implementing the first caregiver trainings, conducting a total of 5 throughout the Metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. The volunteers recruited participants for the trainings and found community locations to offer them at. The program was revised after these first trials and then tested again, eventually expanding to the Twin Cities then Denver Colorado and eventually Alaska by the spring of 2001.

Q. So what does evidence based program mean?
A. Evidence based means that the program was tested in research and then translated for community use. Evidence based programs need to be presented the way the program developers designed it. Research shows that evidence based programs produce positive results that are attributed directly from the program itself rather than outside factors and they demonstrate reliable positive changes in health related measures.

Q. Will I get a chance to talk with other caregivers?
A. While at the Savvy Caregiver Training caregivers will meet people going through similar experiences. The opening discussion of each session allows caregivers to share stories, ideas, and experiences with people they relate too. Each week the training involves several group activities that allow the caregivers to get to know each other on a personal basis and even share contact information to keep in touch after the training.

Q. Thanks Crystal for giving us such great information. Where can caregivers enroll or find out about the nearest Savvy Caregiver Training being offered?
A. Caregivers can log onto the The Healthy Living Center of Excellence webiste at

Resize text-+=