Home Instead offers online dementia program for caregivers and families

Family caregivers of those afflicted with dementia will soon have the option to learn more about the symptoms and how to care for loved ones through Home Instead Senior Care’s Alzheimer’s Changing Aging through Research and Education (CARE) Program.

The program offers several free, e-learning courses for family members and family caregivers to learn more about behavior management, encouraging engagement and caring for those with dementia as well as themselves.

The courses were developed by five different Alzheimer’s experts in North America, according to Home Instead Senior Care north Minneapolis and far northern St. Paul suburbs franchise owner Dan Arnold, whose office is on University Avenue in Blaine.

The courses were designed exclusively for the Home Instead Senior Care Network. Training through these courses started at the beginning of this year and was given to three groups of Home Instead professional caregivers.

Those who first tested the program gave positive feedback and now the courses have been given to nearly all Home Instead Senior Care professional caregivers.

“It [the training] was shorter before. It was more on an individual basis where as now we’re bringing people into more of a classroom setting and it’s more interactive,” Arnold said.

Those who take the training will go through five classes, covering the topics of understanding Alzheimer’s and dementia, Capturing Life’s Journey, managing behaviors, encouraging engagement and safety.

Capturing Life’s Journey is an approach that encourages caregivers to assemble stories and experiences from their senior to comfort them during the course of the disease.

Home Instead Senior Care Public Relations Specialist Julie Swartz said the course taps into long-term memory because those with dementia have more difficulty with short-term memory.

According to Arnold, Home Instead Senior Care’s corporate leaders looked at their client base and found the majority of their clients had some form of dementia. Dealing with dementia patients was also a frequently mentioned topic on the agency’s website.

With this realization, they decided their caregivers and employees needed additional training to provide better service to this client base.

“Alzheimer’s is the number one issue that we deal with as a company. Some clients might have other issues that they deal with, but the main reason they’re in a home is dementia,” Arnold said.

Prior to these new courses, Home Instead offered Alzheimer’s training to their caregiver employees but it was not as in-depth, according to Arnold.

The new program is an eight-hour training that focuses on how to deal with the changing behaviors in dementia patients and help them stay in their home or current environment.

While not all clients with dementia are in a nursing home, most live in some form of dependent living, such as an assisted living facility or with relatives.

The tips the e-learning courses provide can be useful for family members even in small matters, such as diverting a family member’s attention from what may unnecessarily bother them.

Many diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia can also undergo personality changes, an issue that the courses address.

Arnold talked about the difference between dealing with Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

“People are really looking at how do we cure and work with it, but with Alzheimer’s there’s not a cure to it. It’s how we work with the caregiver and client on dealing with those issues,” Arnold said.

Home Instead Senior Care has 750 offices nationwide and many offices will be offering these courses starting late this summer or early fall.

The e-learning courses are currently available at www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com.

Bethany Kemming is at [email protected]