Managing Behavior Changes in Alzheimer’s

From the Alzheimer’s Disease Education & Referral Center

Managing Behavior Changes in Alzheimer’sAlzheimer’s disease can change how a person acts over time. You may see behaviors like:

  • Getting upset, worried, and angry more easily
  • Acting depressed or not interested in things
  • Hiding things
  • Wandering


Caregivers may not be able to stop these changes, but there are ways to cope. Read about them in our tip sheet Managing Personality and Behavior Changes. This tip sheet is available to download as a PDF and an e-Book (both ePub and MOBI formats).

Share this info on social media with the following message:

#Caregivers—learn how to cope with common behavior changes in ppl w/ #Alzheimers http://1.usa.gov/1NvRy4X

Related Online CEU Courses:

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Guide and Tips on Acute Hospitalization is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers strategies for managing the everyday challenges of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease and includes tips on acute hospitalization.

Alzheimer’s Disease Progress Report: Intensifying the Research Effort is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews basic mechanisms and risk factors of AD and details recent research findings.

Alzheimer’s Disease – Overview is a 1-hour online CEU course that provides an overview of the prevalence, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as information about caregiving and caregiver support.

Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease is a 3-hour online CEU course that discusses practical issues concerning caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease who has mild-to-moderate impairment, including a description of common challenges and coping strategies.

Alzheimer’s: Unraveling the Mystery is a 3-hour online CEU course that describes the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, effective steps for prevention, strategies for diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, and the search for new treatments.

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

Volunteers Needed for Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials

From the National Institute on Aging

More than 150 Alzheimer’s and related clinical trials in the United States are looking for volunteers. At least 70,000 people with Alzheimer’s, healthy volunteers, and caregivers are urgently needed.

Alzheimer's Research Needs You

For more information on volunteering: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/volunteer

Related Online Continuing Education Courses:

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Guide and Tips on Acute Hospitalization is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers strategies for managing the everyday challenges of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease and includes tips on acute hospitalization.

Alzheimer’s Disease Progress Report: Intensifying the Research Effort is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews basic mechanisms and risk factors of AD and details recent research findings.

Alzheimer’s Disease – Overview is a 1-hour online CEU course that provides an overview of the prevalence, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as information about caregiving and caregiver support.

Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease is a 3-hour online CEU course that discusses practical issues concerning caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease who has mild-to-moderate impairment, including a description of common challenges and coping strategies.

Alzheimer’s: Unraveling the Mystery is a 3-hour online CEU course that describes the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, effective steps for prevention, strategies for diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, and the search for new treatments.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

Institute of Medicine Releases Report on Cognitive Aging

From the National Institute on Aging

Institute of Medicine releases report on cognitive agingA new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls for increased research on assessing and maintaining cognitive health in older adults. The report, Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action, released April 14, 2015, also suggests that some interventions for healthy aging—exercise, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, and regular discussions with health professionals about medications and chronic conditions—be promoted to help maintain cognitive health. A third area of focus among the report’s 10 recommendations is aimed at the conduct and dissemination of independent reviews and guidelines for products claiming to affect cognitive health. The IOM report and its recommendations follow deliberations of a panel convened by the IOM with support from the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, AARP, the Retirement Research Foundation, the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal was to examine the public health dimensions and state of knowledge of cognitive aging.

NIA maintains an active research portfolio in cognitive aging and provides a number of resources for the public and health care professionals in this area. Among these are:

  • Understanding Memory Loss: This easy-to-read booklet explains the difference between mild forgetfulness and more serious memory problems; describes the causes of memory problems and how they can be treated; and discusses how to cope with serious memory problems
  • List of Current NIA-Funded Age-Related Cognitive Decline Clinical Trials: This list of ongoing clinical trials contains links to information about trials, the trial location, and who to contact for additional information.
  • Brain Health Resource: This presentation toolkit offers current, evidence-based information and resources to facilitate conversations with older people about brain health. Designed for use at senior centers and in other community settings, it contains a PowerPoint presentation, an educator guide, handouts, and a resource list. Materials are written in plain language and explain what people can do to help keep their brains functioning best as they age.

 

Source: http://www.nia.nih.gov/research/announcements/2015/04/institute-medicine-releases-report-cognitive-aging

Related Online Continuing Education (CE/CEU) Courses for Healthcare Professionals:

Biology of Aging: Research Today for a Healthier Tomorrow is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that introduces some key areas of research and looks ahead to the future, as today’s research provides the strongest hints of things to come.

Aging: The Unraveling Self is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that examines the biological, social, and psychological aspects of aging.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

Assessing Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: A Quick Guide

From the National Institute on Aging

As a healthcare professional, you are often the first to address a patient’s complaints—or a family’s concerns—about memory loss or possible dementia. This quick guide provides information about assessing cognitive impairment in older adults.

With this information, you can identify emerging cognitive deficits and possible causes, following up with treatment for what may be a reversible health condition. Or, if Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia is found, you can help patients and their caregivers prepare for the future. Brief, nonproprietary risk assessment and screening tools are available.

Why is it important to assess cognitive impairment in older adults?

alzheimer'sCognitive impairment in older adults has a variety of possible causes, including medication side effects, metabolic and/or endocrine derangements, delirium due to intercurrent illness, depression, and dementia, with Alzheimer’s dementia being most common. Some causes, like medication side effects and depression, can be reversed with treatment. Others, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cannot be reversed, but symptoms can be treated for a period of time and families can be prepared for predictable changes.

Many people who are developing or have dementia do not receive a diagnosis. One study showed that physicians were unaware of cognitive impairment in more than 40 percent of their cognitively impaired patients. Another study found that more than half of patients with dementia had not received a clinical cognitive evaluation by a physician. The failure to evaluate memory or cognitive complaints is likely to hinder treatment of underlying disease and comorbid conditions, and may present safety issues for the patient and others. In many cases, the cognitive problem will worsen over time.

Most patients with memory, other cognitive, or behavior complaints want a diagnosis to understand the nature of their problem and what to expect. Some patients (or families) are reluctant to mention such complaints because they fear a diagnosis of dementia and the future it portends. In these cases, you can explain the benefits of finding out what may be causing the patient’s health concerns.

Pharmacological treatment options for Alzheimer’s-related memory loss and other cognitive symptoms are limited, and none can stop or reverse the course of the disease. However, assessing cognitive impairment and identifying its cause, particularly at an early stage, offers several benefits.

Benefits of Early Screening

If screening is negative: Concerns may be alleviated, at least at that point in time.

If screening is positive and further evaluation is warranted: The patient and physician can take the next step of identifying the cause of impairment (for example, medication side effects, metabolic and/or endocrine imbalance, delirium, depression, Alzheimer’s disease). This may result in:

  • Treating the underlying disease or health condition
  • Managing comorbid conditions more effectively
  • Averting or addressing potential safety issues
  • Allowing the patient to create or update advance directives and plan long-term care
  • Ensuring the patient has a caregiver or someone to help with medical, legal, and financial concerns
  • Ensuring the caregiver receives appropriate information and referrals
  • Encouraging participation in clinical research


When is screening indicated?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, in its recent review and recommendation regarding routine screening for cognitive impairment, noted that “although the overall evidence on routine screening is insufficient, clinicians should remain alert to early signs or symptoms of cognitive impairment (for example, problems with memory or language) and evaluate as appropriate.” A Dementia Screening Indicator can help guide clinician decisions about when it may be appropriate to screen for cognitive impairment in the primary care setting.

How is cognitive impairment evaluated?

Positive screening results warrant further evaluation. A combination of cognitive testing and information from a person who has frequent contact with the patient, such as a spouse or other care provider, is the best way to more fully assess cognitive impairment.

A primary care provider may conduct an evaluation or refer to a specialist such as a geriatrician, neurologist, geriatric psychiatrist, or neuropsychologist. If available, a local memory disorders clinic or Alzheimer’s Disease Center may also accept referrals.

Genetic testing, neuroimaging, and biomarker testing are not generally recommended for clinical use at this time. These tests are primarily conducted in research settings.

Interviews to assess memory, behavior, mood, and functional status (especially complex actions such as driving and managing money are best conducted with the patient alone, so that family members or companions cannot prompt the patient. Information can also be gleaned from the patient’s behavior on arrival in the doctor’s office and interactions with staff.

Note that patients who are only mildly impaired may be adept at covering up their cognitive deficits and reluctant to address the problem.

Family members or close companions can also be good sources of information. Inviting them to speak privately may allow for a more candid discussion. Per HIPAA regulations, the patient should give permission in advance. An alternative would be to invite the family member or close companion to be in the examining room during the patient’s interview and contribute additional information after the patient has spoken.

Brief, easy-to-administer informant screening tools, such as the short IQCODE (PDF, 62K) or the AD8 (PDF, 565K), are available.

Points to Remember

Patients should be screened for cognitive impairment if:

  • the person, family members, or others express concerns about changes in his or her memory or thinking, or
  • you observe problems/changes in the patient’s memory or thinking, or
  • the patient is age 80 or older.(12)
  • Other risk factors that could indicate the need for dementia screening include: low education, history of type 2 diabetes, stroke, depression, and trouble managing money or medications.
  • Instruments for brief screening are available and can be used in an office visit.
  • Patients, particularly those who express a concern, likely want to know what the underlying problem is.
  • Refer to a specialist if needed.


Professional Development Resources
is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA Provider #AAUM); by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); by the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); by the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); by the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

Professional Development Resources offers a variety of online Alzheimer’s and Dementia-related continuing education (CE/CEU) courses to help healthcare professionals stay current on the science and research to support evidence-based practice.

Holiday Hints for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

By the National Institute on Aging

Holiday hints for Alzheimer’s caregiversHolidays can be a wonderful time to visit and reconnect with family, friends, and neighbors for people with Alzheimer’s and caregivers. Balancing special holiday activities with everyday care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease may also seem overwhelming. Here are some tips for making things a little easier:

  • Set your own limits, and be clear about them with others. You don’t have to do everything you used to do.
  • Encourage friends and family to visit even if it’s difficult, but limit the number of visitors at any one time.
  • Explain to guests ahead of time that memory loss is the result of the disease and is not intentional.
  • During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, be sure to take care of yourself. Guard against fatigue and find time for adequate rest.

For more tips on how to prepare ahead of time and find a good balance during the holidays, download Alzheimer’s Caregiving Tips: Holiday Hints. This free tip sheet is available as a PDF and an eBook.

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Guide and Tips on Acute Hospitalization

By the National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Alzheimer's Caregiver Guide and Tips on Acute HospitalizationAlzheimer’s Caregiver Guide and Tips on Acute Hospitalization is a 1-hour online continuing education course that offers strategies for managing the everyday challenges of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease and includes tips on acute hospitalization, which presents a new environment filled with strange sights, odors and sounds, changes in daily routines, along with new medications and tests. Many caregivers have found it helpful to use the strategies described in this course for dealing with difficult behaviors and stressful situations. Course #10-81 | 2010 | 17 pages | 7 posttest questions | $19

This course is presented in two parts. Part 1 offers strategies for managing the everyday challenges of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, a difficult task that can quickly become overwhelming. Research has shown that caregivers themselves often are at increased risk for depression and illness. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. Many caregivers have found it helpful to use the strategies described in this course for dealing with difficult behaviors and stressful situations.

Part 2 includes tips on acute hospitalization, which presents a new environment filled with strange sights, odors and sounds, changes in daily routines, along with new medications and tests. This section is intended to help professionals and family members meet the needs of hospitalized Alzheimer’s patients by offering facts about Alzheimer’s disease, communication tips, personal care techniques, and suggestions for working with behaviors and environmental factors in both the ER and in the hospital room.

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account after purchasing) to mark your answers on it while reading the course document. Then submit online when ready to receive credit.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 

Get the Facts About Alzheimer’s

By the National Institute on Aging

Alzheimer's DiseaseAlthough there are not yet any medications that can stop Alzheimer’s disease, several prescription drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help with some symptoms of the disease at various stages. Treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can provide patients with comfort, dignity, and independence for a longer period of time and can encourage and assist their caregivers as well.

NIA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Medications Fact Sheet describes the different drug treatments currently available, along with information about dosage and potential side effects. You can read this publication online, order copies on the ADEAR Center website, or call toll-free 1-800-438-4380. This information is also available in Spanish.

Be a part of the solution! Volunteers—people with Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment and healthy individuals—are needed now to participate in Alzheimer’s clinical research. Find clinical trials and studies on the NIA Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center website.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE/CEU) Courses:

Alzheimer’s Disease Progress Report: Intensifying the Research Effort is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews basic mechanisms and risk factors of AD and details recent research findings.

Alzheimer’s Disease – Overview is a 1-hour online CEU course that provides an overview of the prevalence, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as information about caregiving and caregiver support.

Alzheimer’s: Unraveling the Mystery is a 3-hour online CEU course that describes the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, effective steps for prevention, strategies for diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, and the search for new treatments.

Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease is a 3-hour online CEU course that discusses practical issues concerning caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease who has mild-to-moderate impairment, including a description of common challenges and coping strategies.

Lewy Body Dementia: Information for Patients, Families, and Professionals is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explains what is known about the different types of LBD and how they are diagnosed. Most importantly, it describes how to treat and manage this difficult disease, with practical advice for both people with LBD and their caregivers.

These online courses provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account after purchasing) and mark your answers on while reading the course document. Then submit online when ready to receive credit.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

Frontotemporal Disorders: Information for Patients, Families, and Caregivers

By the National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Few people have heard of frontotemporal disorders, which lead to dementias that affect personality, behavior, language, and movement. These disorders are little known outside the circles of researchers, clinicians, patients, and caregivers who study and live with them. Although frontotemporal disorders remain puzzling in many ways, researchers are finding new clues that will help them solve this medical mystery and better understand other common dementias.

The symptoms of frontotemporal disorders gradually rob people of basic abilities—thinking, talking, walking, and socializing— that most of us take for granted. They often strike people in the prime of life, when they are working and raising families. Families suffer, too, as they struggle to cope with the person’s daily needs as well as changes in relationships and responsibilities.

Frontotemporal Disorders: Information for Patients, Families, and CaregiversFrontotemporal Disorders: Information for Patients, Families, and Caregivers is a 1-hour introductory online continuing education (CE/CEU) course based on the NIA booklet that explains what is known about the different types of disorders and how they are diagnosed. It is meant to help people with frontotemporal disorders, their families, and caregivers learn more about these conditions and resources for coping. Most importantly, it describes how to treat and manage these difficult conditions, with practical advice for caregivers. Course #10-67 | 2014 | 36 pages | 10 posttest questions

This web-based online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account after purchasing) and mark your answers on while reading the course document. Then submit online when ready to receive credit.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

The Dementias: Hope through Research Approved for ASHA Credit

By the National Institute on Aging (NIA)

A diagnosis of dementia can be frightening for those affected by the syndrome, their family members, and caretakers. Learning more about dementia can help.

The Dementias: Hope through ResearchThe Dementias: Hope through Research is a new 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) that provides a general overview of dementia and specific types of dementia along with their signs and symptoms; lists risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing one or more kinds of dementia; describes how the disorders are diagnosed and treated, including drug therapy; and offers highlights of research that is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging, both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Course #10-75 | 2012 | 20 pages | 10 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved by the Continuing Education Board of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA Provider #AAUM) to provide continuing education activities in speech-language pathology and audiology.

This course is offered for .1 ASHA CEUs (Introductory level, Professional area).

ASHA credit expires 5/31/2017. ASHA CEUs are awarded by the ASHA CE Registry upon receipt of the quarterly completion report from the ASHA Approved CE Provider. Please note that the completion date that appears on ASHA transcripts is the last day of the quarter regardless of when the course was completed.

Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and is CE Broker compliant (courses are reported within one week of completion).

The Dementias: Hope through Research – New Online CE Course

By the National Institute on Aging (NIA)

The Dementias: Hope through ResearchA diagnosis of dementia can be frightening for those affected by the syndrome, their family members, and caretakers. Learning more about dementia can help. This new continuing education (CE/CEU) course provides a general overview of various types of dementia, describes how the disorders are diagnosed and treated, and offers highlights of research that is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging, both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Click here to learn more.

CE Credit: 1 Hour
Target Audience: Psychologists | Counselors | Social Workers | Occupational Therapists | MFTs | Nutritionists & Dietitians
Learning Level: Intermediate
Course Type: Online
Cost: $19

The Basics of Dementia

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning, which means the loss of the ability to think, remember, or reason, as well as behavioral abilities, to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss. Researchers are still trying to understand the underlying disease processes involved in the disorders.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Age is the primary risk factor for developing dementia. For that reason, the number of people living with dementia could double in the next 40 years with an increase in the number of Americans who are age 65 or older—from 40 million today to more than 88 million in 2050. Regardless of the form of dementia, the personal, economic, and societal demands can be devastating.”

Types of Dementia

Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), frontotemporal disorders, and Lewy body dementia result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functions. Currently, there are no cures for these progressive neurodegenerative disorders.

However, other types of dementia can be halted or even reversed with treatment. Normal pressure hydrocephalus, for example, often resolves when excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain is drained via a shunt and rerouted elsewhere in the body. Cerebral vasculitis responds to aggressive treatment with immunosuppressive drugs. In rare cases, treatable infectious disorders can cause dementia. Some drugs, vitamin deficiencies, alcohol abuse, depression, and brain tumors can cause neurological deficits that resemble dementia. Most of these causes respond to treatment.

Causes of Dementia

In many cases, the causes of dementia are unknown at the present time. However, some dementias have identifiable causes such as gene mutation, head injury, Parkinson’s disease, vascular injuries, stroke, other brain diseases such as Huntington’s disease environmental factors like poisoning or substance abuse, and infectious diseases like HIV.

Risk factors include age, alcohol use, atherosclerosis, diabetes, Down syndrome, genetics, hypertension, mental illness, and smoking.

Treatment and Management

Some dementias are treatable. However, therapies to stop or slow common neurodegenerative diseases such as AD have largely been unsuccessful, though some drugs are available to manage certain symptoms. Most drugs for dementia are used to treat symptoms in AD. These drugs are sometimes used to treat other dementias as well. These drugs can temporarily improve or stabilize memory and thinking skills in some people by increasing the activity of the cholinergic brain network. They may also prevent declines in learning and memory. None of these drugs can stop or reverse the course of the disease.

This new CE course The Dementias: Hope through Research provides a general overview of dementia and specific types of dementia along with their signs and symptoms; lists risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing one or more kinds of dementia; describes how the disorders are diagnosed and treated, including drug therapy; and offers highlights of ongoing research.

Currently, there are no cures for the common dementias caused by progressive neurodegeneration, including AD, frontotemporal disorders, and Lewy body dementia. However, some forms of dementia are treatable. A better understanding of dementia disorders, as well as their diagnosis and treatment, will make it possible for affected individuals and their caretakers to live their lives more fully and meet daily challenges.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCCACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the CaliforniaBoard of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

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