The Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan has announced a fall learning series to help people with dementia and their family and friends.
Two different education programs will offer lessons on the subjects of “Care Essentials” and “Pain Assessment in Older Adults with Severe Dementia,” respectively.
The free learning series is delivered via the Telehealth program, with Prince Albert audiences watching on a TV screen at Victoria Hospital.
“It’s live video conferencing, so they’re watching a presenter from either Regina or Saskatoon, depending on the week,” provincial program co-ordinator Trina Hodgson said.
“Then they can interact with the speaker and ask the questions that they want to ask at the end of the session.”
Care Essentials, a continuous learning series targeted at family, friends and care partners of individuals in the middle stage of dementia, will take place over four consecutive Tuesdays on Oct. 1, 8, 15 and 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The pain assessment workshop, meanwhile, will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, a clinical psychology professor and director of the Centre on Aging and Health at the University of Regina, will lead the presentation.
Leading the presentation of Care Essentials is Dr. Jenny Basran, who can point to impeccable credentials in the study of dementia.
“She’s our province’s only Royal College-certified geriatrician, so she’s more than an expert in this field,” Hodgson said.
“She’s going to talk about what to expect, the types of irreversible dementias, the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, drug treatments approved by Health Canada, things of that nature in the first week.”
During the second week, Basran will focus on the journey of the caregiver as the disease progresses, discussing various coping strategies.
“Caregivers experience a lot during this time -- a lot of stress, a lot of changes with the person with dementia,” Hodgson said.
It’s not the person with dementia that can change. It’s us as caregivers that need to change. Trina Hodgson
In succeeding weeks, the presentation will cover day-to-day care, understanding the behaviour of someone with dementia and community resources available for caregivers.
Communicating with a dementia patient and understanding their behavior is ultimately the responsibility of the caregiver, Hodgson said.
“People with dementia’s communication abilities change with this disease, so it’s not the person with dementia that can change,” she noted. “It’s us as caregivers that need to change.”
That same theme will find an echo in the pain assessment lecture.
Due to cognitive impairment caused by their condition, older adults experiencing severe dementia are often unable to express or describe pain to others.
The November presentation will aim to offer ways caregivers can work around these limitations, providing insight into what non-verbal communication looks like when a person with dementia experiences pain.
“Dr. Hadjistavropoulos is one of the experts in our province about pain assessment,” Hodgson said.
“He’s done a lot of research out of the University of Regina here, and so he’s developed a lot of tools. He’s worked with a lot of long-term care facilities to develop pain assessment tools for people that aren’t necessarily able to tell caregivers -- whether they be informal or formal caregivers -- about their pain.”
Pre-registration is required to attend the learning series. While the presentations are offered free of charge, donations are appreciated.
P.A. residents may register online at www.alzheimer.ca/sk or by contacting their local Telehealth co-ordinator at the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region at (306) 765-6082.