Help for Alzheimer’s Families is designed for families to take free, interactive online classes to learn more about dementia, so they can understand the disease affecting their loved one.
Dr. Amy D'Aprix, a gerontologist who helped develop the program, says while groups like the Alzheimer’s Society offer courses and seminars, it’s often difficult to attend a course in person. These courses, however, are available online and are free.
“It’s done in segments of 5 to 15 minutes you don’t need a lot of time to get the skills that you can use right away,” she told CTV’s Canada AM Thursday.
The website offers classes on managing some of the challenging behaviors that are typical in dementia patients; how to encourage patients to stay active; and how to keep loved ones safe. There’s also a course that explains dementia and what can be expected as the disease progresses.
D’Aprix says a key component of the program is called Capturing Life’s Journey. It involves gathering information about the person’s life prior to their disease to learn more about their history, passions and hobbies.
“It then allows you to look at the patient and to ask given where they are today, can I still allow them to do some of that and encourage that, so they stay engaged in life and continue to feel they have their independence and dignity,” explained D’Aprix.
She cites the example of a woman caring for her mother who was refusing to get out of bed -- a not unusual development in depressed dementia patients.
The daughter knew that her mother had grown up on a farm and had spent most of her young life waking up early to do chores on the farm.
“So the daughter, knowing this about her mom, started waking her mother up by saying, ‘Mom, it’s time to go do the chores.’ And her mom would jump right out of be and engage in the day, where for weeks she had refused to get out of bed,” D’Aprix says.
The online training program was developed by the Home Instead Senior Care network, a company that provides senior home care services, as well as Alzheimer's and dementia care services