Session I: The Basics of Dementia
In Session I, we will introduce ourselves as class members, share expectations for the class as well as key dementia-related concerns, and begin by exploring the hope and optimism surrounding the latest promising research, news regarding prevention and treatment, and an overview of federal dementia funding and legislation. We will then review aging milestones, typical age-related cognitive changes, reversible conditions that mimic dementia, and define mild cognitive impairment. We will learn about the various types of dementia and gain a thorough understanding of the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease. We will also review symptom medications and information regarding the first treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. We will close by exploring the pathology of dementia to better understand the brain and its functions. We will wrap up with a robust Q&A and discussion session.
Session II: The More You Know
In Session II, we will cover the “Dementia Tens”; the Ten Warning Signs, the Ten Risk Factors, and the Ten Risk Reducers. We will explore how to recognize symptoms, what lifestyle elements increase the odds of developing dementia, and the 15 things everyone can do right now to reduce risk for dementia or delay onset. We will cover how to breach the subject with loved ones who are showing signs of dementia and discuss guidelines for getting a dementia diagnosis and the benefits of early detection. We will learn about exciting new diagnostic breakthroughs regarding biomarkers and diagnostic tests and tools. We will close with a conversation regarding the emotions that accompany a dementia diagnosis and wrap up with a robust Q&A and discussion session.
Session III: Preparing for Care
In Session III, we will begin our journey into caregiving. It is estimated that one in three of us will eventually deliver some form of care for someone living with dementia. This session includes a caregiving overview, review of statistics, and cover basics like project management, roles and responsibilities, daily tasks and activities, family dynamics, long distance caregiving, and care options. We then progress to a comprehensive learning session regarding dementia communication and interaction tips as well as skills to better manage difficult behaviors. We will close with a discussion of caregiving challenges and wrap up with a robust Q&A and discussion session.
Session IV: Practical Matters
In Session IV, we will begin with the emotions of caregiving, including challenging milestones, stress factors, self-care, and the importance of respite. We will discuss stigma surrounding the topic of dementia and review the top ten quality of life issues for both dementia caregivers and those living with dementia to bolster and gain empathy, tolerance, and patience. The session will then cover “practical matters” such as advance planning, legal and financial issues, acute care management, special occasions and travel, safety for all, emergency planning, and caregiving resources. We will then explore the awareness factors that make communities dementia friendly and summarize with a review of the five lists of the ten most important things to know about Alzheimer’s/dementia. The course closes with a robust class member forum to discuss learnings from the four sessions, key insights and outlooks, and a final Q&A session. We will wrap up with a precursory celebration of a world without dementia, a goal which is well within reach!