An estimated 50 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease, including approximately 5.8 million in the United States, with 34,000 living in Utah.
Utah has the highest rate per capita of the disease and Tooele County isn’t escaping the disease, according to local health officials.
“The older population of Tooele County is quickly growing as are the issues that affect them,” said Emily VanZanten with Tooele County Health Department Aging Services. “The number of people with the disease doubles every five years.”
Although much research has been conducted on the cause and cure of Alzheimer’s disease, little information is available about hands-on care.
Tooele County Health Department Aging Services invites community members to participate in “Dementia Dialogues,” a five-module training course designed to educate the community and individuals who care for persons who exhibit signs and symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
Due to COVID-19, the health department is offering the course online over ZOOM. The public is welcome to participate.
Dementia Dialogues provides current and practical information about the care of people with dementia.
Topics included in the training include; “The Basic Facts” — an overview of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, “Keep the Dialogue Going” — strategies for effective communication, “It’s a Different World” –— understanding the impact of the environment and ways to promote independence, “It’s Nothing Personal: Addressing Challenging Behaviors,” and “Now What Do We Do?” — creative problem solving.
The course will be presented by Van Zanten, Dr. Megan Skibitsky, and Sarah Obray.
Dr. Skibitsky is a physician with the University of Utah Health at the Stansbury Health Center. As a geriatrician, she focuses on care for older adults. She enjoys caring for patients with dementia and is involved in efforts to improve dementia care.
“This is a course for caregivers of persons with dementia that focuses on communication especially management of difficult behaviors,” Skibitsky said.
Van Zanten is a licensed social service worker. She is currently a case worker for Tooele County Aging Services in-home services, a certified long-term care ombudsman, and a Medicare counselor.
Sarah Jane Obray is a masters level gerontologist. She currently works for Tooele County Aging Services facilitating support groups for caregivers and widows/widowers. Additionally, she coordinates caregiver Lunch and Learn seminars and is a certified provider of the Dementia Live program.
Dementia Dialogues will be presented virtually starting April 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. The course will be offered over five weeks, with a different topic being presented each week. Sessions are scheduled for April 13, 20, 27 and May 4 and 11, 2021. The classes build on each other. To preregister, please call VanZanten at 435-277-2457.
Dementia Dialogues is provided at no cost to participants through support from the Office for the Study of Aging at the Arnold School of Public Health and the Utah Department of Health.
VanZanten invites caregivers and others to participate in the course.
“Come join us to gain an understanding of dementia as well as skills and strategies to cope with its effects,” Van Zanten said.