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Arnold School of Public Health


Office for the Study of Aging’s Dementia Dialogues program goes national

August 28, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

Based in the Arnold School’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Office for the Study of Aging has trained more than 21,000 South Carolinians with their Dementia Dialogues program since it was created in 2002. The program consists of a five-session course designed to educate individuals who care for persons who exhibit signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. They also have a module for training others who can provide the training to caregivers across the state. This train-the-trainer component has resulted in 24 Certified Dementia Dialogues trainers who deliver the program throughout the state.

In early August, the Office kicked off a nationwide rollout of the program in Utah while hosted by the University of Utah’s College of Nursing and Solstice Home Health, Hospice and Palliative Care. As Program Development and Training Manager within the Office for the Study of Aging, Macie Smith conducted the sessions for 75 professionals and family caregivers. She also certified five professionals with the two-day train-the-trainer module to facilitate the program in Salt Lake County and surrounding areas.

“Dementia Dialogues was requested due to the growing need for dementia-capable education for family members, caregivers and professionals working in the field in the Salt Lake City area,” Smith says. “The information is practical and presented in a manner that is applicable and easily understood.”

The trainees agree. “The tools they presented have already changed the way I look at the condition,” says Anne Asman, a Development Officer for the University of Utah who has a loved-one with early onset dementia. “I am seeing her reality in a whole new light—thank you.”

Solstice Home Health, Hospice, and Palliative Care has plans to perfect their knowledge base in preparation for further extending the Dementia Dialogues program throughout Salt Lake County. “We want to improve quality of life through educating caregivers and professionals,” says the organization’s owner, Amy Hartman. “We will facilitate collaboration across the care continuum to reduce stigma associated with dementia to promote client-centered care through Dementia Dialogues,” she adds.

In addition to the Utah rollout, the Office for the Study of Aging plans to continue promoting the adoption of the Dementia Dialogues program across the country while continuing their focus on dementia education in South Carolina. “We are planning to facilitate the program in Georgia and North Carolina within the next year, and additional states will be added as requested,” says Smith.