By Ali Nicole 

The Shore’s local Area Agency on Aging, MAC Inc., provides a wide variety of resources to support seniors in living life independently. This January, they are offering multiple classes with a focus on Alzheimer’s and dementia. The classes range in depth and audience to meet a wide variety of needs. The class consumers range from those, “wanting to know more, to [those] wanting to get assistance,” says Carol Zimmerman, director of Aging and Dementia Programs with MAC Inc.

For those wanting to know more about Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to Zimmerman, the Life Bridges: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Education Workshops would be a good fit. The seven classes presented throughout the month of January will be offered in partnership with Salisbury University’s School of Social Work, the Greater Maryland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and MAC Inc.’s Life Bridges program. 

Jennifer Schermerhorn of SU’s School of Social Work and Carol Zimmerman will present these hour-long classes over a virtual platform and they are open to all who are interested.

The series kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 5, covering the basics of understanding these disorders followed by Dementia Conversations on Tuesday, Jan. 12, which covers addressing difficult topics regarding the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s. On Thursday, Jan. 14, Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behavior looks at a four-step process to understanding behaviors and responding, which can be combined with Technology Tools offered on Tuesday, Jan. 19, which looks at tools to help manage dementia symptoms more effectively.

In late January, warning signs, prevention, and communication are the focus. On Thursday, Jan. 21, class participants can learn about the 10 warning signs of dementia and how it differs from typical aging. Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body on Tuesday, Jan. 26, highlights, “what we know from the research that will help us in terms of prevention,” says Zimmerman. 

The education webinars wrap up with Effective Communication Strategies aimed at helping caregivers understand how to communicate with the person managing life with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Contact MAC Inc. at 410-742-0505, for more information on registering for these free, virtual courses.

While the Life Bridges: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Education Workshops were developed and intended for caregivers, health professionals, and the general public, the Savvy Caregiver course is designed specifically with caregivers in mind. This six-week course is evidence-based to help caregivers become more efficient in their ability to provide care to those with dementia. 

Carol Zimmerman describes the Savvy Caregiver course as, “intensive and immersive,” as participants will engage in two hours a week of learning about the disease progression, impact on the caregiver and the individual being cared for, daily life skills for managing while caregiving, self-care, and communication.

Zimmerman states, “Unlike a lot of other caregiver programs, it is rooted in the understanding of Alzheimer’s and dementia.” The course begins on Wednesday, Jan. 20, and, like the workshops, is free of charge. To sign up for these courses, caregivers can call 410-742-0505, ext. 127, or email kg*****@ma****.org.

In addition to the education workshops and Savvy Caregiver classes, MAC Inc. also offers a specialized course for those in the early stages of dementia and their caregiver. 

The Early Stage Dementia Education Group is specifically designed for both the individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s and the caregiver to complete together. 

The focus is on life planning and decision-making while the individual’s cognitive functioning still allows them to participate. Topics such as changing relationships, diet, advanced planning, and medication are explored.

The Early Stage Dementia Education Group course runs for six weeks starting Thursday, Jan. 14, and each class is two hours. To sign up for the free course, contact MAC Inc. at the main number. The center will perform a screen to determine ability to benefit.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s and dementia, have just been diagnosed, or are a caregiver or health professional, there is an opportunity to benefit from these free resources MAC Inc. provides to the community. 

Zimmerman concludes, “If you have any concern about yourself or someone in your family, or have a history of Alzheimer’s or dementia in your family, please plan to join these classes to learn a little bit more. They’re not only educational, but can also be reassuring.”