Online Class: Alzheimer's Disease 101

In this course, students will learn about some of the risk factors and perceived causes of Alzheimer's disease, the most common warning signs of the disease, how the disease is diagnosed and classified or staged, with differing symptoms affecting the lifestyle, environment and challenges placed on caregivers.

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Course Description

Welcome to this introductory course on Alzheimer's disease.  As one of the most feared and misunderstood types of dementia affecting the elderly today, understanding Alzheimer's and how it affects the brain is important not only for every individual, but for those diagnosed with the disease, and their caregivers. In this course, students will learn about some of the risk factors and perceived causes of Alzheimer's disease.  Students will learn the most common warning signs of Alzheimer's and differentiating between Alzheimer's symptoms and normal aging processes.

By the end of this course, students will also understand how Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed and classified or staged, with differing symptoms affecting the lifestyle, environment and challenges placed on caregivers. Home safety and the security of loved ones is of primary importance for someone with Alzheimer's disease, and this course covers the basics of how you can adapt the home to create a safe environment for a loved one. Future considerations regarding care, legal and financial planning are also introduced in this course, as are tips and suggestions on dealing with certain behaviors common to Alzheimer's disease including anxiety, confusion and aggression.

No course on Alzheimer's would be complete without addressing caregivers.  Caregiving is an extremely rewarding experience, but may also precipitate a number of challenges and stress. Taking care of the caregivers, and different approaches and expectations of care based on culture will be discussed.

Knowing what to expect during the latter stages of the Alzheimer's disease process and suggestions of things to remember when providing care for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's will round out this course.  We hope this course will alleviate some of the fear and uncertainty regarding Alzheimer's and provide guidance, understanding and suggestions for compassionate approaches to caregiving and support that you can offer to loved ones or friends diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.


Course Motivation

 Alzheimer's disease afflicts millions of seniors around the world. It not only causes physiological and mental damage to the body but wreaks havoc with the afflicted individual, loved ones, and extended family members.
Alzheimer's disease is greatly feared and misunderstood. The gradual decline in cognitive and physical capabilities of those diagnosed with the disease can be extremely difficult and heart-wrenching to watch, especially for the children and spouses of those diagnosed with it. Understanding the disease process, how Alzheimer's affects the brain, and things that caregivers and loved ones can do to maintain quality of life are covered in this course. 
No two people will react to the disease in the same way, so it is impossible to state specifically what will happen and when. However, this course will cover the basics on maintaining a safe environment for loved ones, offer guidance and suggestions for legal and financial planning, and help readers consider future care needs and options. This course also will offer caregivers guidance on how best to deal with behaviors, wandering, and late-stage care for individuals diagnosed with the disease. 

Alzheimer's Basics 

Alzheimer's disease is a disease of the brain. A gradually degenerative process, Alzheimer's creates difficulties with thinking processes and cognitive ability, short-term and long-term memory, and behavior. Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer's is not a normal aging process and not every senior will be diagnosed with the disease. 

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, and individuals diagnosed with it must deal with a gradual loss of intellectual ability and memory.  Eventually, the person also experiences a gradual and steady decline of physical health and the ability to care for oneself. The National Alzheimer's Association estimates that nearly 50 percent to 75 percent of dementia cases are diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease.

Individuals diagnosed with the disease are generally older than 65, but younger individuals, even those in their 40s or 50s, may be diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, which will also be discussed in this course.

Alzheimer's is a disease that progressively worsens over time, as do its symptoms.  Alarmingly, Alzheimer's disease has been determined to be the sixth leading cause of death in the United States alone. Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's may live for three to 20 years after diagnosis, depending on their overall health and age at diagnosis. 

To date, doctors, scientists, and researchers have found no cure for the disease process, but studies continue in its causes and potential treatments, including stem cell research and development. Today, medications are commonly prescribed to help decrease the speed at which the disease progresses, with varying results.

How Alzheimer's Affects the Brain
Two abnormal components in the brain directly affect the Alzheimer's disease process.  A healthy brain is made up of nerve cells and networks that link together and enable you to think, remember, and learn. Our senses are triggered by brain responses, as is our ability to reach for a pencil, tie a shoe, or enjoy a sunset. 

Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease show a presence of abnormal structures throughout the brain's cortex. These structures are called plaques and tangles.  Plaques are defined as protein fragment deposits that may eventually build up between nerve cell spaces. Tangles are another type of protein, called tau, that often builds up inside cells.

Doctors do not know how these plaques and tangles develop in one person's brain and not another.  However, scientific research has advanced far enough for doctors to determine that these plaques and tangles effectively and irreversibly interfere with communication between nerve cells and can disrupt neural network processes that all brain cells need in order to survive, communicate, and function.
Actual memory loss is caused by damage, destruction, or dying brain nerve cells. Such nerve cell destruction also causes personality changes and may cause a person to experience difficulty performing normal tasks. Many traumatic brain injury patients experience trouble walking, communicating, writing, or eating following a brain injury, as well as difficulties with balance and coordination. 

Any damage to the brain's overall structure or its nerves and neural networks interferes with optimal function in the human body. Most people do have some plaques and tangles present in their brain structure, but those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease have far more plaques and tangles than people who do not. 

Early-onset Alzheimer's

Nearly 10 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease at the end of the first decade of the new millennium. Alzheimer's is believed to be somewhat genetic, though doctors do not yet understand why an individual in his or her 40s or 50s might begin to exhibit signs and symptoms of the disease process, while for most, such symptoms do not appear until the mid-60s to 70s. It is believed that in cases where Alzheimer's is inherited, individuals may even experience some symptoms in their 30s. 

As with full-blown Alzheimer's, early-onset Alzheimer's affects individuals in different ways. You may have some good days and bad days, but individuals diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's may notice more difficulty with concentration and memory than others. Individuals diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's will understandably feel a range of emotions and experiences that may be likened to the grieving process. These emotions include:

  • anger;
  • denial;
  • depression;
  • fear;
  • frustration;
  • isolation;
  • sense of loss.
Such feelings are perfectly normal, and each individual gradually learns how to deal with the disease process with her or his spouse, children, and other family and friends. We will discuss future considerations individuals diagnosed with the disease and their loved ones will need to make when dealing with the Alzheimer's disease process over time. However, some tips to increase your sense of well-being, safety, and quality of life may offer help. Some suggestions include:
  • Express yourself with family, friends, or professional counselors. Talk about your feelings and fears. Do not try to keep it all in.
  • Adapt your work hours or family responsibilities as needed.
  • Be prepared for good and bad days.
  • Watch your diet, keep up with exercising, and try to reduce stress levels.
  • Begin thinking about arrangements for legal or financial counseling or support.
  • Make your home and yard a safer, more secure environment in anticipation of future changes in your health and physical capabilities.

Myths about Alzheimer's

Memory is one of the first brain functions that decline with the onset of Alzheimer's. This is not to say that everyone who experiences occasional forgetfulness has to worry about Alzheimer's disease. First, debunking certain myths regarding Alzheimer's might be a good idea. 

Myth No. 1: Alzheimer's is not a terminal disease.

The truth is that Alzheimer's eventually causes total loss of body functions. Depending on the stage in which a person is diagnosed, a person may experience memory problems, incontinence, and the inability to remember how to eat or take care of oneself.  Eventually, body symptoms breakdown, the last of which is the ability to move or breathe. 

Myth No. 2: Only old people get Alzheimer's disease.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans are living in some stage of Alzheimer's disease right this minute. Most of them are over 65 years of age, but nearly 200,000 of those individuals are under 65 years old and have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. 

Myth No. 3: Memory loss naturally comes with aging.

Memory loss is not a part of the normal aging process. While older individuals may feel that their cognitive and reasoning capabilities are slowing down, there is no evidence that supports the fact that an older person's brain cells cannot regenerate. 

Myth No. 4: Drugs can stop the Alzheimer's process.

While a number of medications are available today that may help slow the gradual worsening of symptoms, there is no cure to date that will stop Alzheimer's disease or any other form of dementia in its tracks. In general, individuals may slow down the degenerative process for between six to 12 months, depending on the stage of the disease at diagnosis.

The purpose of this course is not to scare you but to offer reliable information and education regarding the disease process. You need to know what it is and how you can help yourself or your loved ones through the process.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(2,042 votes)

Lesson 1: What Is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's disease afflicts millions of seniors around the world, and causes not only physiological but mental damage to the body. 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Alzheimer's Disease Course; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 1: What Is Alzheimer's Disease?

Lesson 2: Is It Alzheimer's or Something Else?

It's understandable that many people worry that if one person in their family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, chances are they'll get it too. This isn't necessarily true. Additional lesson topics: Signs and Symptoms 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 2: Is it Alzheimer's or Something Else?

Lesson 3: Stages of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease is a gradual and progressive disease, meaning that it grows worse as time goes on. Additional lesson topics: Tips for Maintaining a Normal Life 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 3: Stages of Alzheimer's

Lesson 4: Home Safety

It is not particularly difficult, expensive or time-consuming to adapt a home to make it a safer environment for an elderly person. Additional lesson topics: Safety for Alzheimers 33 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Home Safety
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 4: Home Safety

Lesson 5: What If I Have Alzheimer's?

What would you do if you were diagnosed with Alzheimer's? Consider the ramifications. If you are like most people, your first reaction will be denial, and then fear. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 5: What If I Have Alzheimer's?

Lesson 6: Legal and Financial Planning

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, you have to make plans. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 6: Legal and Financial Planning

Lesson 7: Dealing with Behaviors

At the beginning of this course, we mentioned that a person with Alzheimer's disease may eventually show changes in behavior and personality. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 7: Dealing With Behaviors

Lesson 8: Caregiver Stress

There is no doubt about it; taking care of a relative or loved one in the elderly years can be one of the most rewarding experiences an individual can hope to accomplish. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Caregiver Stress
  • Assessment: Lesson 8: Caregiver Stress

Lesson 9: Culture-centered Care

The trend in health care today is moving toward person-centered or culture-centered care and changes in the approach and delivery of health care services. 34 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 9: Culture Centered Care

Lesson 10: Late-stage Care

The overall physical comfort of an individual experiencing the late stages of Alzheimer's is the primary focus of loved ones and caregivers. Additional lesson topics: Late Stage Care 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 10: Late Stage Care

Lesson 11: 10 Things to Remember

As we head into the last lesson of this basic introductory course regarding Alzheimer's disease, we will leave you with 10 things to remember when working with an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. 85 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Lesson discussions: What is your opinion of this course?; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 11: 10 Things to Remember
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Define what Alzheimer's Disease is.
  • Identify stages of Alzheimer's.
  • Summarize home safety for persons with Alzheimer's.
  • Identify what to do and how to cope if you have Alzheimer's.
  • Summarize legal and financial planning for persons who have or are dealing with people that have Alzheimer's.
  • Describe dealing with behaviors of someone who has Alzheimer's.
  • Recognize caregiver stress when dealing with Alzheimer's patients.
  • Describe culture-centered care and late-stage care.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
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Course Title: Alzheimer's Disease 101
Course Number: 8900163
Lessons Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars (2,042 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: November 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.7 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "I really enjoyed this class, as a person who dealt with someone who had Alzheimer's I wished I would've known about this before. This class showed me how to deal with different stages of Alzheimer's and what is normal. Also taught me that being frustrated is totally normal and it is ok to ask for help." -- Maria B.
  • "Instructor very helpful excellent feedback, course very enjoyable." -- Stephanie I.
  • "Excellent experience for me and I've shared with several coworkers." -- Brandy H.
  • "Course is very educational for me...instructor is kind and collaborative." -- Albino R.
  • "Excellent instructor and enjoy her classes." -- Alisa K.
  • "Everything about this course was very helpful. THanks...." -- Michelle P.
  • "I loved this course and think it was a well planned and thought out course!!! Very Intelligent instructor!! THANKS!" -- Joan D.
  • "Instructor was excellent to the point I am taking another of her classes" -- Melody B.
  • "Everything was helpful...I am a caregiver to my mom who has Alzheimer's." -- Joan E.
  • "This was an excellent course, the instructor was extremely knowledgeable, I would recommend this course for anyone working in this field or taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer's." -- Sharon M.