EMU offers nation's only graduate certificate specializing in study of dementia to meet growing needs of health care professionals

by Pamela Young, Published April 29, 2010

YPSILANTI - America is graying and with that comes new challenges. Those over 85 years of age are the fastest growing segment of the population, which is resulting in an increased demand for expertise in programs and services for individuals with dementia.

To address this growing need, Eastern Michigan University will offer the first graduate level certificate program in the country that specializes in the study of dementia. The certificate is geared to professionals in hospitals, home health care, research centers, veterans’ services, business settings and substance abuse centers.

The multidisciplinary program provides a theoretical framework and practical grounding for working with families and persons with dementia in the home, community-based programs and 24-hour care settings, says Elizabeth Schuster, professor in the gerontology program.

The program also emphasizes the social psychology of dementia, changes in people and their communication, and ways they compensate during the disease’s progression. Students will learn techniques to accommodate changes, learn ongoing assessment of the person and the environment, and will develop supportive interventions to increase the person’s well being.

Experts predict the number of people with Alzheimer’s will continue to rise unless something can be done to stem the increase, according to Schuster. Nearly 16 million Americans will have the disease by 2050.

For more information about the program, go to www.ep.emich.edu/dementia

Pamela Young

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