Color & Control:

Learning about dementia

By Dr. Richard Sztramko and Dr. Anthony Levinson

In 2018, the Alzheimer’s Society reported that over 500,000 Canadians were living with dementia, and 25,000 new cases are being diagnosed each year. It is also estimated that 85% of people living with dementia relied, at least partially, on unpaid informal caregivers such as family, friends, or neighbours to support them.

At your own pace
Developed to provide the public with free evidence-based education about dementia, is an online portal created by clinicians and medical educators to assist with the difficult task of taking in all of the information that you need at the time a loved one is diagnosed. The program was designed to allow caregivers and family members to access high-quality resources about both the condition and caregiving at homes. It’s easy to use and share with others within the circle of care. Some of the features include:

Multi-media lessons: There are ten easyto-understand lessons. Beginning with ‘What is Dementia,’ the series covers what doctors and clinicians felt were the most important topics: promoting brain health, treatment options, caring for a person with dementia at home, safety issues, anxiety and depression, responsive behaviours, and caregiver wellness.

Live online events: Monthly live online events feature a discussion topic such as ‘Advanced Care Planning’ and ‘Hearing Loss and Dementia’ and are followed by a live Q&A segment where viewers can ask their questions in real-time. Recognizing that it is not always possible for caregivers to tune in at a specific time and day, recordings of live events are posted on the website as well.

Micro-learning: In addition, there are free email-based ‘microlearning’ programs that deliver helpful snippets each week. These one to two-minute reads are ideal for those who may not have the time to take an entire lesson or for those who want to continue to expand their knowledge about dementia.

Effective and in-demand
Since the project was launched in mid-2018, over 100,000 people from across Canada have accessed on a complimentary basis. The response to both lessons and live events from the public and healthcare professionals has been overwhelmingly positive. Plans include new educational offerings including a French-language version, podcasts, an eBook, and expanded lesson content in the future.

The team’s goal
Through education and the dissemination of information, it is expected that both the stigma associated with dementia can be reduced and that family members and caregivers will feel better supported.

Dr. Richard Sztramko is a Geriatrician and an Assistant Professor at McMaster University.

Dr. Anthony Levinson is a Neuropsychiatrist and Associate Professor at McMaster and Director of the Division of E-learning innovation.

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