AlzU Blog

College Students Learn About Alzheimer's Disease (Part I)

Courses about Alzheimer’s disease are becoming more and more prevalent at the college level these days.  As medical research discovers more about the impact of early lifestyle intervention for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), it makes sense to educate people early in life. 

Montana College Students Learn About Volunteering

Many institutions across the country are beginning to implement education about Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s prevention into their campus curriculum.  For example, at Highlands College in Montana, Nicholas Hart, Community Outreach Specialist at the Montana Alzheimer’s Association, spoke to Psychology major students recently.  Hart explained information about Alzheimer’s awareness, including, the impact of AD, how to sign up to volunteer to help with the cause, and more.  Previously, the students at Highlands College were involved in a local fundraiser, called, “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.”

“Our students are learning how to respond to the needs of their community through volunteer work and also acquire exemplary skills for working with older adults in Dr. Elyse Lovell’s psychology and gerontology courses,” said Dr. Dave Gurchiek, College Dean at Highlands College.  Gurchiek fully supports the volunteer endeavors of students at the college who are involved in any type of fundraising for The Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Alzheimer’s Disease Statistics

Nationwide, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) now affects nearly 5 million people, and by the year 2050, that number has been estimated to grow to approximately 16 million people.  The disease primarily involves caregivers in the family who are unpaid, along with paid caregivers.  In 2017 nearly 49,000 caregivers provided around 56 million hours of unpaid care.  That accounts for over $700 million in unpaid care and Medicare/Medicaid costs are estimated at around $259 billion each year.

“Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in Montana,” Mr. Hart noted. “And given the intense level of caregiving, this disease also creates a financial management concern. We appreciate the partnership between Highlands College of Montana Tech and the Montana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The University of Alabama’s Honors College

Students at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, are also learning about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  The Alabama Honors College is offering an innovative new art therapy program, integrating people in the community with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease dementia, and their caregivers into the program.  The program is called “Art to Life.” 

What is Art to Life? 

The Art to Life program was founded in partnership with a neurologist, named Dr. Daniel Potts, who was inspired to get involved after his father died of AD in 2007.

Art to Life connects Honors College students with individuals with Alzheimer’s, who attend Caring Days Adult Day Care in Tuscaloosa. Students assist people with AD with art therapy projects, such as drawing pictures of their life’s stories and memories.  The drawings are then collected and bound in leather books as a keepsake.  Students learn to have empathy for people with disabilities, while learning the importance of life story telling.  The students are also given weekly instruction on Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, caregiving, and person-centered care techniques. 

Click Here to find out what is involved in person-centered care techniques and to learn more about other college courses involving AD.

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