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January 22, 2009

ULM's new online course explores Alzheimer's myths

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is offering a new online graduate course this spring for professionals who provide long-term and acute care to persons suffering conditions of dementia. The long-term care concentration in the university’s gerontology graduate program is the first in the nation to be accredited.

Gerontologists, nurses, counselors and other professional caregivers may benefit from the valuable information provided in the course, a class which will raise questions about many commonly held assumptions about Alzheimer's and related conditions, according to Chris Johnson, Ph.D., professor of sociology and gerontology.

Johnson said the course “offers a fusion of science, the medicalization of diseases and sociological imagination to challenge myths concerning these conditions."

The course, designed for students of ULM’s Graduate School, considers theories that neurodegenerative conditions should not claim the elderly, nor should they dominate them or degrade their humanity. These conditions can better be met by altering the way in which affected lives are lived, said Johnson.

“Persons are not dying of dementia, they are living with these conditions,” he said.

Issues of user-friendly designs for homes and care giving ideas will be discussed, along with the “marketing” of dementia by those offering false promises while producing public paranoia and social stigmas.

The course is part of ULM’s Gateway to Online Degrees Program; visit the ULM GOLD website at

For more information about the course, contact Johnson at 318-342-1465 or e-mail

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