How Health Care Professionals are Trained in Alzheimer’s Care


There are many ways that health care professionals are trained to assist in caring for an individual with some form of dementia.

Upon being hired, health care professionals typically attend an orientation session that introduces them to their new company, as well as basic Alzheimer's training—especially if they are working at a memory care community.

During orientation most companies offer a "shadowing" time for the new hire. This means the new hire observes other team members and follows them around to see, in a hands on way, what they will be doing in their day-to-day work. Some companies will also have videos or in-person Alzheimer's training for their new hire to complete before "working on the floor."

Once the health care professional starts "working the floor," communities have ongoing in-services training throughout the year. Not all the in-services are dementia specific.

Some communities will also offer a concept of "training hands-on," whereby a new health care professional is assigned a mentor to answer questions and point out areas of improvement. Mentors will help with day-to-day tasks, enabling the new hire to enhance their skills of caring for someone with dementia.

Some health care professionals may have many years of hands-on experience with dementia care, via a personal or professional journey. Other caregivers may have less practical experience, but possess a "knack" or a built-in instinct when it comes to caring for someone with dementia. When this natural talent is uncovered, communities will often tap into this skill set by assigning these individuals as mentors to the community.

Another form of professional caregiver preparation that communities may include is a more intensive Alzheimer's training that occurs once the new hire has been employed 30, 60 or 90 days. The amount of time put into more in-depth training varies from company to company. Intensive video courses, in-person training and role-playing exercises are all forms of advanced Alzheimer's care preparation. Communities might also bring in an Alzheimer's specialist—either someone from their own staff or an outside Alzheimer's consultant—to offer their services and teaching.

Depending on what certificate or license they hold, health care professionals have education requirements to meet, so they may also receive training via CEU seminars (Continuing Education Unit). Certain CEU's must be maintained in order to keep their certificate or license, and credits earned are turned in to the licensure board, per each state's requirement.

If a community is a licensed memory care community, they also have to meet state regulatory requirements for training hours with regards to Alzheimer's. Plus, many health care professionals will conduct their own research online, connect with organizations like the Alzheimer's Association, read Alzheimer's specific books, join groups via social media for brainstorming and attend local healthcare lunches that have an Alzheimer's topic.

When considering a particular memory care facility for a loved one who has Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, it's essential to ask the staff what dementia care training is offered at the community level. Inquire about the state requirements are for dementia training for senior care workers.

Also, keep in mind that if a community is not a licensed memory care community, their training may or may not be at the same level as the licensed memory care facility. Health care professionals and the training they receive will vary from community to community, as well as from state to state. The amount of education will vary from health care professional to health care professional because some may have more of a passion to learn as much as possible.

Wishing you strength, courage and happiness with those in their days gone by!

Deanna Lueckenotte is the author of "Alzheimer's Days Gone By: For Those Caring for Their Loved Ones." She plans to continue publishing books related to Alzheimer's and caregivers. She would also like to continue her education by obtaining her doctorate in geriatrics.

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