Helping Families Cope

Helping Families Cope 

The purpose of this course is to familiarize the learner with information about family caregiving in the context of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The nature of the neurodegenerative disease and its prevalence will be explained, along with common experiences for family members. Demographics related to caregiving will be presented, along with issues of stigma, caregiver burden, and grief and loss. An essential framework for helping families cope with this illness that includes concepts of personhood, person-centered care, and practices that promote good communication and self-care will be considered. Direct care workers and healthcare professionals will be called upon to recognize family caregivers as “hidden patients” who are equally deserving of care, and to promote their coping and resilience. During this course, we will offer examples of specific stressors associated with the early, middle, and late stages of the disease and emphasize the importance of proactive support and tangible resources.


Hours: 1.00


Certificates provided by accrediting body (1 Match)

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (ALL Direct Care Workers)


Relias Learning, LLC is approved as a Curriculum Developer by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. This activity is approved for 1.00 contact hours for all WA State Direct Care Workers. Training Provider Code: WA0624. CE Approval Code: CO1933596

Course Details

Course Code: REL-PAC-0-ALZH108
Hours: 1
Type: Online Course
Content Expiration Date: 5/31/2020
Learning Objectives:
Recall key elements of Alzheimer’s disease, including its prevalence, stages, and caregiving implications
Identify common experiences of family members with a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia
Recognize the central role of grief and loss in the family’s experience of the disease
Identify an essential framework for improving family member coping and resilience
Recall proactive support strategies for early, middle, and late stages of the disease, including the need to balance independence with safety, the benefits of early advance care planning, and how to address behaviors, family conflict, and provide support to family decision-making


  1. Introduction: Helping Families Cope with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias

    1. Course description

      1. Purpose

      2. Objectives

      3. Checkpoints

    2. Understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

      1. Definitions and descriptions

      2. Prevalence

        1. Gender differences

        2. Racial differences

      3. Description of stages

        1. Early

        2. Middle

        3. Late

      4. Checkpoint one: Multiple-choice questions


  1. Understanding the role of family caregivers

    1. Most care for those living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is provided by family caregivers

      1. Motivations for caregiving

      2. Sandwich generation

      3. Predominantly female

      4. Rationale for understanding the experience of family members

    2. Introduction to problems faced by families living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias

      1. Stigma and its effects

      2. Caregiver burden

      3. The experience of grief, loss, and mourning in dementia

        1. Definitions (engage)

        2. Grief experience

          1. Anticipatory grief

          2. Normal/healing

        3. Grief in the context of Alzheimer’s disease

          1. The “long goodbye”: ambiguous loss

    3. Checkpoint two: Multiple-choice and matching questions

  2. An essential framework for helping families cope with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

    1. Introduction

      1. Foundational concepts

      2. Embodiment

    2. Two key philosophies (engage)

      1. Personhood

      2. Person-centered care

    3. Other essential concepts

      1. Self-care

        1. Good self-care habits

        2. Stress prevention, reduction, and management

      2. Good communication skills (engage)

        1. Empathy and validation

        2. Effective listening

        3. Asking open-ended questions

        4. Mindfulness

        5. Calm

        6. Problems as opportunities

          1. After rupture, offer repair

        7. Be an ally

        8. Inspire hope                                                                                      

    4. Understanding coping and resilience

    5. Checkpoint three: Matching, multiple-choice, and true/false questions

  1. Helping Families Adapt and Cope with Each Stage of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias

    1. Direct care workers and professional healthcare providers have an important role

      1. Recognize the vital role of family caregiving in all its uncertainty

      2. Recognize family caregivers as “hidden patients”

      3. Acknowledge the hazards of caregiving and the benefits of support

    2. Helping patients and families through the stages of the disease

      1. Proactive support

      2. Empathy

    3. Early stage

      1. The kinds of stressors patients/family caregivers encounter

      2. Offering proactive support: key considerations

        1. Education

        2. Advance care planning

        3. Safety focus: Driving

          1. Case scenario: Mary worries about her husband Frank’s driving and receives support and information from her home health nurse, Vanessa

          2. Middle stage

          3. The kinds of stressors patients/family caregivers encounter

          4. Offering proactive support: key considerations

          5. Behavioral Expressions

          6. Case Scenario: When Caregiving Overwhelms a Family, Conflict Erupts

          7. Helping Family Members in Conflict

          8. Case Scenario: The Family’s Resolution to Conflict Associated with Caregiving

          9. Late stage

          10. The kinds of stressors caregivers encounter

          11. Offering proactive support: key considerations

          12. Placement in a care setting

          13. Considering hospice

          14. Checkpoint four: multiple-choice questions

          15. Course Summary

Instructor: Sharon K. Brothers, MSW
Sharon Brothers, MSW, has an advanced degree in social work and over 30 years' experience as an owner, operator and educator in senior care. She has been a developer, owner and operator of dementia care assisted living communities and has deep expertise as an educator for all levels of staff within the care profession. Sharon is currently the founder and CEO of the Institute for Professional Care Education and is a national speaker and advocate for quality education within senior care. Disclosure: Sharon K. Brothers, MSW has declared that no conflict of interest, Relevant Financial Relationship or Relevant Non-Financial Relationship exists.
Relias will be transparent in disclosing if any commercial support, sponsorship or co-providership is present prior to the learner completing the course.
Course Delivery Method and Format
Asynchronous/Online Distance Learning; please see certificate details for specifics on delivery format.
Relias has a grievance policy in place to facilitate reports of dissatisfaction. Relias will make every effort to resolve each grievance in a mutually satisfactory manner. In order to report a complaint or grievance please contact Relias.
If you require special accommodations to complete this module, please contact Relias Support by completing the web form ( or by using the chat functionality.
All courses offered by Relias, LLC are developed from a foundation of diversity, inclusiveness, and a multicultural perspective. Knowledge, values and awareness related to cultural competency are infused throughout the course content.
Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer or otherwise does not constitute or imply any endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of, or affiliation with, Relias, LLC.
All characteristics and organizations referenced in the following training are fictional. Any resemblance to any actual organizations or persons living or dead, is purely coincidental.
To earn continuing education credit for this course you must achieve a passing score of 80% on the post-test and complete the course evaluation.
If you require special accommodations to complete this module, please contact Relias Customer Support here.