Online Classes to Manage Dementia


As caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, you’ve hopefully found community support and professionals to aid in their care. But if your parent has recently received the diagnosis, it is often difficult to know where to start to get help. Each individual and caregiver has unique needs and finding professionals to find solutions and care options can be challenging. To address what are often gaps in knowledge about Alzheimer’s and to increase awareness, some professionals are turning to offering online classes.

An example is The Center for Innovative Care in Aging at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland starting a new, innovative course in the massive open online course (M.O.O.C.) format. As a means to reach a worldwide audience, an M.O.O.C. is a class or workshop presented over the Internet as an alternative to physically sitting in a classroom to learn about a topic. Lectures are usually presented in videos with optional online chat sessions with participants.

Dr. Laura Gilpin from the Center for Innovative Care and Nancy Hodgson from the John Hopkins nursing school will be presenting this particular class, but no doubt others will be initiated to reach wider audiences. They will employ a “person-centered” approach to dementia care. The person-centered theory suggests it’s best for the senior with dementia to be met where they are in the progression on the disease, instead of  “one-size-fits-all” which doesn’t address the individual’s specific needs.

Through the online class, participants learn what to expect at each stage of the disease and how the older adult’s capabilities diminish. In this way, unrealistic goals are avoided which tend to set up situations that frustrate and confuse an Alzheimer’s patient. Understanding the best approach helps to maintain the loved one’s dignity and address their changing roles.

Realizing that caregivers’ time resources are limited, the online instructors intend to keep class times to 15 and 20 minute sections. Homework assignments will focus on dementia treatment theories in the students’ regions and explore relevant case studies.

Ask your local Alzheimer’s community if online classes may be available in your area soon.

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