Bringing Dementia Education to Rural Costa Rican Families
Dementia has become a global epidemic, and cases are constantly increasing in Costa Rica. Traditionally, in Costa Rica, older adults are cared for by their families. Although most rural families remain intact, the challenges of caring for a person with dementia 24/7 can be overwhelming, especially when an elderly spouse is a caregiver with little or no access to information or support.
Although Costa Rica has developed rapidly over the past 20 years, and there are a few governments, NGOs, and universities offering programs about aging, there are fewer dementia programs available. These are primarily centered close to the capital, San José, and do not have outreach programs to rural areas.
The Dementia Education project is a voluntary initiative focusing on rural areas of Costa Rica. The program provides basic dementia information, resources, and practical home care for those with dementia. Our efforts are also contributing to removing the stigma of dementia by creating community support networks for those with dementia and their families.
I started this program in 2021 as part of the Infinite Mind Dementia Project. Unfortunately, the country went into COVID lockdown that year, and efforts went on hold. However, as soon as the masks came off, the project took off. So far, educational talks have been presented in English for the expats and Spanish for locals in over 25 communities, clubs, and groups.
Working with local organizations in the communities, we offer presentations and training workshops. We have been operating primarily out of pocket, with some expenses funded through gifts from generous individuals. We work primarily through community and volunteer networking.
Several indigenous territories are also included in the projection of the program. We have solid contacts in four indigenous communities: Térraba, Boruca, Ngabe, and Huetar. (I have been involved personally with the Térraba for seven years.)
During the initial visit to each community, we meet with community leaders to explain the initiative and set dates and locations for talks and workshops, which take place on a second visit.
The projection is to eventually interest governmental organizations like the national healthcare system, CAJA, and the Ministerio de Salud (health department) in providing monthly introductory presentations on the basics of dementia in their rural clinics for the locals in their area.
Katya is a naturalized Costa Rican citizen who has resided in Costa Rica since 1980. She’s been a dementia educator for 23 years, a caregiver coach, a freelance writer, and the author of “Journey Through the Infinite Mind, The Science and Spirituality of Dementia.” She resides near the capital city, San José, coordinates the outreach efforts in that area of the country, and is developing the project at national and international levels.
Susana Raine lives near her family in the southern Pacific, Costa Rica, and develops and coordinates the initiative there. She has resided for 35 years in Costa Rica, starting in high school, and worked as a professional translator and interpreter in the country for more than 20 years.
Both are bilingual, bicultural movers and shakers, passionate about contributing to Costa Rica’s underserved populations.
You can help
We are looking for volunteers to help with the technology of expanding the program nationally and internationally through the creation of online dementia educational programs and workshops.
Our wish list includes audio-visual equipment and covers travel expenses and presentation materials. Click this Go Fund Me link for details. With your help, we can make a difference in Costa Rica and this challenging world!
Katya de Luisa (Founder, Coordinator)
+506 8706-0496 firstname.lastname@example.org