Training Curriculum: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

Currently, more than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease.  Training for the primary care workforce about dementia, and caring for those affected, is essential.

With federal partners and public stakeholders, the Health Resources and Services Administration created a curriculum—16 core modules and four supplemental modules—for health educators to train the primary care workforce about dementia care, and to help providers address caregiver needs.

To promote interprofessional teamwork in the care of persons living with dementia, this curriculum may be used by:

  • Health professions faculty
  • Students
  • Primary care practitioners
  • Members of the interprofessional geriatrics care team
  • Direct service workers

Modules 1-12 contain information about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias of particular interest to the primary care workforce. Modules 13-16 specify the roles of specific health care professions in dementia care.  All 16 core modules include a PowerPoint presentation, with detailed notes, and a reference list, to assist with teaching and presentations.

The modules focus primarily on outpatient rather than residential care because the majority of persons living with dementia remain in their homes during the earlier, and some even through later stages, of dementia.

The curriculum modules can be accessed here.

Module List

Module 1: Overview of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia for an Interprofessional Team
Module 2: Diagnosing Dementia
Module 3: Recognizing the Role of Diversity in Dementia Care   
Module 4: Providing and Discussing a Dementia Diagnosis
Module 5: Understanding Early-Stage Dementia for an Interprofessional Team
Module 6: Understanding the Middle Stage of Dementia for the Interprofessional Team
Module 7: Management of Common Medical Conditions Observed During Middle and Late Stages of Dementia
Module 8: Medical Treatments of Dementia
Module 9: Interprofessional Team Roles and Responsibilities
Module 10: Effective Care Transitions to and from Acute Care Hospitals
Module 11: Ethics and Capacity Issues
Module 12: Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Persons Living with Dementia
Module 13: Clinical Social Workers and Clinical Psychologists: Practicing with Persons Living with Dementia and their Care Partners 
Module 14: The Role of Acute Care Staff in Emergency Departments (EDs) and Hospitals for Persons Living with Dementia
Module 15: Role of the Pharmacist in the Management of Persons living with dementia
Module 16: Dentistry and Dementia

Minimize danger around the house—tips for caregivers

People with Alzheimer’s disease may not see, smell, touch, hear and/or taste things as they used to. Make life safer around the house by:

  • Checking foods in the refrigerator often. Throw out anything that has gone bad.
  • Put away or lock up things like toothpaste, lotions, shampoos, rubbing alcohol, soap, or perfume. They may look and smell like food to a person with Alzheimer’s.
  • If the person wears a hearing aid, check the batteries and settings often.

Remember to re-evaluate the safety of the person’s home as behavior and abilities change.

Learn more about home safety for people with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s research—what you can do to help

“When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I wanted to do everything possible to fight the disease, not give in to it. I talked with my doctor about possible treatments. He helped me find a clinical trial that was right for me. Now I get to talk with Alzheimer’s experts. Plus, I know I’m doing something that might help my children and grandchildren avoid the disease.”

This is an exciting time for Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Advances are being made because thousands of people have participated in clinical trials and studies to learn more about the disease and test treatments.

You can help. Check out Participating in Alzheimer’s Research: For Yourself and Future Generations to learn about:

  • Types of clinical research
  • Common questions about participating in research
  • Why placebos are important

Why studies need all kinds of people

Make communication easier for a person with Alzheimer’s disease

Check out these 5 tips to make communication easier between you and a person with Alzheimer’s:

  • Make eye contact and call the person by name
  • Be aware of your tone, how loud your voice is, how you look at the person, and your body language
  • Encourage two-way conversation for as long as possible
  • Use other methods besides speaking, such as gentle touching
  • Try distracting the person if communication creates problems

Visit the ADEAR website to learn more about the changes in communication that may accompany Alzheimer’s disease.

Health Care Professionals: Online course for Practical Discussions about Cognitive Impairment with Patients

Discussing memory concerns with your patients can be difficult. Alzheimer’s and other dementias are complex, and patients often have a lot of questions and concerns.

To help you prepare for these visits, the Alzheimer’s Association® presents Challenging Conversations About Dementia.

The five-module online course covers:

  1. Counseling the Worried Well Patient: Review of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Risk Factors
  2. Diagnosing the Cause of Dementia: Why Is This Important?
  3. The Road Ahead to a Differential Diagnosis: What Can the Patient Expect?
  4. Caring for a Patient Newly Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease: What Needs to be Addressed?
  5. Driving Retirement: Challenging Conversations in Community Mobility

In this free course, you’ll receive information to confidently approach the detection, diagnostic and care-planning process for your patients with cognitive impairment and dementia.

Complete this course at alz.org/FreeCME.

Exercising with Alzheimer’s

Regular exercise can have many benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease, though some people may have trouble getting around during the later stages. If the person with Alzheimer’s has trouble with tasks like walking, choose gentle forms of exercise like:

  • Simple household chores like sweeping and dusting
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Using soft rubber exercise balls or balloons for stretching or throwing back and forth
  • Using stretching bands
  • Lifting weights or household items (such as water bottles)

Check out Go4Life, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging, for more ways to be active.

New Resource Available on Person Centered Dementia Care in the Hospital Setting

Many older adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, or ADRD, experience preventable hospitalization. It is imperative for care team members, including healthcare professionals and family members, to understand the nuances of providing care within this setting. CATCH-ON staff and partners developed a free online course that covers the following important concepts:

  • Module 1: Common causes of hospitalization and how to best provide person-centered care in the hospital setting.
  • Module 2: Communication considerations that facilitate trust, understanding, and person-centered dementia care. We will also focus on person-centered plans of care and discharge plans for hospitalized individuals living with ADRD.
  • Module 3: Function, safety, and developing a person centered plan of care through discharge from the hospital setting.

Completing all 3 modules provides 1 free CE/CME/CNE or Certificate of Completion. Each set of modules should not take more than 1 hour to complete and can be done in multiple sittings.
Enroll today! Please visit http://www.catch-on.org to complete the modules.