Helping the Helpers of Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 5.3 million people in the U.S. who have Alzheimer’s and nearly 11 million unpaid caregivers involved in their daily care. It is the 7th leading cause of death, and it costs us around 172 billion dollars each year. While there are a number of causes of dementia, Alzheimer’s is the most common type, accounting for 60-80% of cases. In advanced Alzheimer’s, people need help with bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, eating, and other daily activities. Those in the final stages of the disease lose their ability to communicate, fail to recognize loved ones, and become bed-bound and are reliant on 24/7 care. Their needs can become an almost unbearable burden for their caregivers.

alzheimer's continuing education“This is where family members and other unpaid caregivers begin to come to the attention of health and mental health professionals,” says Leo Christie, PhD, CEO of Professional Development Resources. “While most caregivers are proud of the help they provide, many of them also experience very high levels of stress and depression associated with their caregiving roles. One study showed that family members who provided care to a person with dementia spent at least 46 hours per week assisting the person in the last year before the person’s death. The majority felt they were on duty 24 hours a day. Our goal is to provide continuing education (CE) courses that give professionals the tools they need to help the helpers.”

Negative health effects can run the gamut from stress to heart disease. Research has indicated that caregivers – many of whom are elderly themselves – may show high levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, new hypertension, and new coronary heart disease. In one study, 24% of spouse caregivers had at least one ER visit or hospitalization in the previous six months. Mental health effects include severe stress and depression. There are also social and economic impacts, such as isolation and reduced employment.

“Our main task is to convince caregivers that it’s OK to ask for help and take time for themselves,” adds Christie. “They feel that they should be able to do everything themselves, that it’s not all right to leave the person with someone else, that no one will help even if they ask, or that they don’t have the money to pay someone to watch the person for an hour or two. It all adds up to burnout.”

Among the Alzheimer’s courses offered by Professional Development Resources are:

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What Do You Know About CAM?

complementary and alternative medicine Alternative medicine can mean any healing practice that is not covered by conventional medicine. The most common are naturopathy, chiropractic, herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, hypnosis, homeopathy, acupuncture, Unai and Ayurveda.

The popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (known as CAM in medical circles) varies from country to country and from culture to culture. In Western countries, it is often used as a complimentary medicine in conjunction with or to complement conventional medical treatments and can be classified into five major groups: whole medical systems (including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda); mind-body medicine; biologically based practices; manipulative and body based practices (including chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation); and bioelectromagnetic based therapies.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), many Americans use CAM in pursuit of health and well-being. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, showed that approximately 38 percent of adults use CAM.

Defining CAM is difficult, because the field is very broad and constantly changing. NCCAM defines CAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. Conventional medicine (also called Western or allopathic medicine) is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) and D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. The boundaries between CAM and conventional medicine are not absolute, and specific CAM practices may, over time, become widely accepted.

“Complementary medicine” refers to use of CAM together with conventional medicine, such as using acupuncture in addition to usual care to help lessen pain. Most use of CAM by Americans is complementary. “Alternative medicine” refers to use of CAM in place of conventional medicine. “Integrative medicine” (also called integrated medicine) refers to a practice that combines both conventional and CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness.

Steven Novella writes in his blog post CAM in Medical Schools on the Science-Based Medicine blog, “When we look a little closer at the numbers we find that the vast majority of so-called CAM use in the US is either massage (16%), chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (21.9%), and yoga (9.5%). (There is overlap in use so you can’t simply add these percentages, but the vast majority of the mythical “40%” figure comes from these categories.) So some form of exercise, stretching, or muscle manipulation accounts for the vast majority of CAM use. Throw in some other modalities that are not really CAM, like relaxation and nutrition (since when has the science of nutrition been alternative to science) and that accounts for even more. The difference between the scientific approach and the typical CAM approach is that science is based in reality. It slowly builds a knowledge base that is internally consistent. Whereas most CAM modalities are philosophy-based – they are based on pre-scientific superstitious notions of health and illness that have not been subjected to any kind of systematic study, or that have been left behind by scientific advance (such as the notion of life energy). These philosophies are often mutually exclusive, which doesn’t seem to bother the “big tent” CAM movement. In the end, the alleged underlying “imbalances” sought for by CAM practitioners are illusory and not based in reality. That doesn’t stop them from being smug in their dismissal of scientific medicine.”

Despite the arguments for or against complementary, alternative, or even integrative medicine, the fact remains that healthcare consumers want to know their options. If they read on the internet about an alternative ‘cure’ for their son’s Autism, they’ll (hopefully) ask their healthcare provider for more information. For this reason alone, healthcare providers need to educate themselves so they can, in turn, educate their patients.

Professional Development Resources offers two continuing education courses for healthcare professionals that address various CAM modalities. Both courses are based on a series of live lectures given by NCCAM experts and are transcribed verbatim.

CAM Part 1: Overview & Dietary Supplements is a 3-hour CE course that is comprised of the first two lectures in the NCCAM series. The first half of the course is presented by Stephen E. Straus, MD, Director at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health and is an overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), including biologically-based systems, mind-body medicine, manipulative and body-based approaches, alternative medical systems, and energy therapies. The second half is presented by Paul M. Coates, PhD, Director of the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health and addresses herbs and other dietary supplements, including an overview of dietary supplements, research on their efficacy and safety, research highlights, and sources of information. Course #30-22 | 2006 | 31 pages | 24 posttest questions

CAM Part 2: Mind-Body Medicine & Acupuncture is a 3-hour CE course comprised of the third and fourth lectures in the NCCAM series. David Spiegel, MD, Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, reviews the relationship between stress, stressful situations, including medical illness, and altered mental states. Richard Hammerschlag, PhD, President of the Society for Acupuncture Research then addresses acupuncture, its history, what it is, what it does, and whether it works. Course #30-23 | 2006 | 35 pages | 20 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is recognized as a provider of continuing education by the following:

AOTA: American Occupational Therapy Association (#3159)
APA: American Psychological Association
ASWB: Association of Social Work Boards (#1046)
CDR: Commission on Dietetic Registration (#PR001)
NBCC: National Board for Certified Counselors (#5590)
NAADAC: National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors (#00279)
California: Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625)
Florida: Boards of SW, MFT & MHC (#BAP346); Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635); Occupational Therapy Practice (#34). PDResources is CE Broker compliant.
Illinois: DPR for Social Work (#159-00531)
South Carolina: Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193)
Texas: Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) & State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678)

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“Test Only” CE Courses

Professional Development Resources offers a “test only” option for each of their continuing education courses, whether is it an online course, a mail order course, or a discontinued course. The “test only” is simply just that: the CE test ONLY. Course materials and/or books are not included. The point of this option is to allow you to receive continuing education credit for a course that you might already have the book for, or want to check out from the library. It also allows healthcare professionals to share course materials and save money by spliting the cost of the book or online course materials. You receive instant access to the online CE test, which you can complete online anytime.


  1. After purchasing a Test Only course, go to My Courses of your account dashboard
  2. Click the link to attend the course under Current Courses
  3. Click the link to View/Print/Take CE Test (we recommend printing for use while reading the course materials, all tests are open-book, multiple-choice, 80% required to pass, 3 chances to take test)
  4. Read the course materials and mark your answers on your printed CE test
  5. When ready to receive credit – go back to My Courses – click link to View/Print/Take CE Test – mark your answers on the online test and submit when finished. Tests are instantly scored and results are only shown upon grading (scroll down to see answers missed).
  6. Submit Course Evaluation – your certificate is not generated until the evaluation has been submitted. Your certificate will be dated the day you submit the evaluation.

Ethics a Frequent and Necessary Topic for Professional Continuing Education

During these times when flagrant dishonesty and unbridled greed are at the forefront of political and financial news, the topic of professional ethics is front and center in the continuing professional development of many health professionals. Professional Development Resources, a nationally accredited provider of continuing education (CE) for psychologists, social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, occupational therapists, registered dietitians, and speech-language pathologists, now features more than 15 separate ethics courses on its website. The wide range of courses is intended to provide professional clinicians with thoughtful perspectives on maintaining open, honest, and ethical relationships with their clients.

Jacksonville, Florida – March 3, 2009 — Professional Development Resources has recently increased its curriculum in professional ethics courses. Many psychologists, social workers, counselors, and occupational therapists are required – as part of their periodic relicensure process – to complete CE courses related to ethics in the practice of their specialties.

The company’s website, now offers over 150 accredited healthcare and mental health CE courses. Of this catalog, more than 15 relate to multiple aspects of ethics in clinical practice. The courses include modules on privacy and confidentiality, maintenance of professional boundaries, multicultural competency, use of internet technologies, management of high-risk clients, professional codes of ethics, and state and national practice laws and rules.

“It is hard to envision having too many ethics courses,” says Leo Christie, PhD, CEO of Professional Development Resources. “With so many examples of unethical behavior and abuse of power in the news nearly every day, the conduct of health professionals is under scrutiny as well. We want to be sure that the clinicians who take our courses have access to training in the many facets of ethical conduct in practice, whatever their specialties. They need to be equipped to assure their clients of compliance with the highest and most recent standards of ethical behavior.”

Among the most important issues in healthcare ethics is the concern for privacy in handling clients’ personal information. If individuals are to benefit from health and mental health services, they must be assured that their personal information will be protected. This is far more challenging today than it was even a decade ago. The pervasive use of electronic communication technologies like cell phones, laptops, email, and the Internet has created an environment in which new protections must be implemented. All professionals need to be trained in the most current procedures for safeguarding their clients’ protected health information in the recording, storage, and transmission of electronic records.

The point of mandated continuing education (CE) for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and occupational therapists is to assure the public that the licensed professionals they consult are trained in the use of up-to-date procedures and technologies. For many clinicians who have been in practice for 20 years or more, today’s electronic communication technologies did not even exist when they completed their post-graduate training. CE is their opportunity to be sure they are maintaining state-of-the-art compliance with current best practices and privacy regulations.

Users who have taken ethics courses from Professional Development Resources have appreciated the ability to stay current in the many aspects of ethics. One counselor sent this email: “I really appreciated the ethics information. I learned about areas important to clients like boundary violations, spirituality, and conflicted custody suits. It will also keep me informed and knowledgeable about areas in which I might be vulnerable in a court of law.” A psychologist wrote “it is daunting to keep abreast of the many regulations and guidelines coming from HIPAA and my state and national associations. It really helps to have instant access to online ethics courses that offer training in the newest privacy and security procedures.”