2022 Training Topics

  • Each of the topics listed below may be presented as a webinar or a “Live” training.
  • The trainings may be held in a 1 ½ hour format or a 2 ½ hour format.  
  • For the 2 ½ hour format contact hours are available for Social Workers, Family and Marital therapists and Professional counselors as well as PA DHS Personal Care Home Administrators, NACCM (National Academy of Care managers) and CCMC (Commission for Care Managers).
  • There are additional fees for contact hours. 
  • Please note there are time limitations on obtaining approval for contact hours.
  • All topics included are researched and evidenced-based but are presented to ensure all levels of participants gain the knowledge of the topic. 


  • “Aging, Mental Health and Chronic Illness” – As we age there is increased risk of chronic illnesses, such as Diabetes, Heart disease, obesity and arthritis. What most individuals don’t realize is that most “chronic illnesses” are preventable. Individuals with chronic illnesses also have an increase risk in mental health issues, most commonly depression. All of these issues impact on how we age. This presentation will discuss the risks of chronic illness and co-morbid mental health issues, symptoms, prevention and how to manage them.  Evidenced-based practices for healthy aging will be reviewed. The keys to “aging well ” will be emphasized.
  • What It Means to Grow Old” –  Understanding how our body ages “normally” is an important for all of us as we grow older. It is also necessary to recognize what is “normal aging” and when one is truly having mental and/or physical health problems associated with aging. This webinar will review the “normal” processes of aging; the physical, cognitive, social and emotional differences that happen to all of us as we age. The interactive effects of aging will be discussed, emphasizing prevention and approaches to ensure a healthy, engaged older age.
  • “Differentiating Dementia, Depression and Delirium”- Psychiatric issues in older individuals are involved and complicated. Delirium, depression, and dementia are the most common psychiatric presentations in older adults however differentiating the three “D’s” can be difficult. Recognizing each is a fundamental part of caring for older adults. This webinar will discuss the incidence and common characteristics of each; delirium, depression and dementia.  Assessment of the clinical symptoms and the varied assessments scales will be presented.  Recognizing the multidisciplinary needs of older adults will be emphasized. 
  • “Behavioral Health Issues in Older Adults” – Older adults are underserved in behavioral health systems.  Accessing care, issues of stigma and agism further complicate reaching older adults in need.  This presentation will review the characteristics of mental health issues specific to late life. Assessment of the clinical symptoms and needed differentiation will be reviewed including the  “behavioral” symptoms of the individual suffering from depression, anxiety, delirium and the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia. Substance use issues in older adults will be examined. Specific treatment needs for older adults in recovery will be considered.  Behavioral interventions that may be used with individuals who  are suffering from depression and anxiety will be reviewed. Psychosocial interventions  for individuals will be presented  including communication skills, behavioral management and environmental interventions for those suffering from cognitive disorders.
  • “Update of Alzheimer’s Disease” – Alzheimer’s disease currently affects over 5.8 million Americans.  If no cure is found over 88 million American’s will be afflicted by 2050. (2020 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures)  This presentation will provide an overview and criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. Other  forms of dementia will also be reviewed. The most common symptoms of dementia will be presented as well as the neuropsychiatric symptoms that frequently accompany the disease.  The medical limitations in treating the “neuropsychiatric” or the “behavioral and psychological” symptoms of dementia will be discussed. Treatment interventions will be reviewed including current medication protocols, the need for good communication skills, behavioral management and psychosocial approaches.  Community resources for both family and professional caregivers will be emphasized. 
  • Understanding “Problem” Behaviors – Problem behaviors in older adults can also be manifestations of medical illness, psychiatric disease, or “behavioral anxiety”. This presentation will discuss “problem behaviors” as a “means” of communication. We will describe the “behavioral” symptoms of the individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, delirium and the “neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia”.  We will identify and discuss the common interventions that may be used with individuals who are having behavior problems including communication skills, behavioral management and psychosocial interventions. Case discussions will be utilized as examples and in problem solving. 
  • “Psychiatric Complications of Dementia” – Psychiatric complications of dementia are many, yet due to issues of stigma individuals and families do not readily seek help.”  Issues of depression in primary caregivers, both professional and family, are frequent, can directly affect caregiving and outcomes.  Depression is present in up to 50% of individuals suffering from dementia and few afflicted get adequate treatment.  Delirium occurs frequently and can lead to hospitalization and even death for those with dementia. The “neuropsychiatric symptoms” of dementia occur up to 90% during the course of the illness which can lead to caregiver burnout, loss of quality of life and institutionalization.  Each of these issues will be discussed in detail, including symptoms, interventions and resources.  Prevention and accessing proper treatment will be emphasized. 
  • “Depression, Anxiety and Suicide in Older Adults” – Depression, anxiety, and suicide are common disorders in older adults. During this webinar, each of these disorders will be introduced. Though much is written about depression and dementia in later life, anxiety is often referred to as the “Geriatric Giant” due to its common presentation in older adults. Anxiety frequently accompanies medical disorders and can be a side effect of medication as well. The varied types of anxiety will be presented, as well as interventions to assist older adults in coping with their symptoms. Almost 30% of older adults in primary care suffer from some form of depression, yet for the majority of older individuals, it remains untreated. Issues of depression will be reviewed, as well as the increased risk of depression related to co-morbid disorders.  Causes and risks of suicide in older adults will be examined. Community-based interventions to prevent suicide will be emphasized.  An overview of barriers to service provisions for older adults will be reviewed with an impetus to work together as community providers to serve older adults.
  • “Normal Cognitive Changes that Accompany Aging” – As we age and care for older adults it is important to differentiate normal age-related changes from common “psychiatric issues” that may accompany aging. This presentation will discuss what “normal” cognitive processes happen as we all age, and how illness and stress can impair our “memory”. Recognizing the cognitive symptoms of depression, attention issues that accompany delirium, and the disorientation from dementia are important for caring for older adults.  Differentiating cognitive problems and when to seek help will be explained. The importance of “brain health” will be emphasized and interventions to ensure a “healthy brain” will be presented.  
  • “Substance Use Disorders: Issues  in Older Adults” – As the “baby boomer” generation has aged, substance use has become a major health concern. This presentation will discuss “Substance Use disorders” common to older adults, including illicit drug use, prescription drug misuse, and alcohol/opioid abuse. We will compare the current generation’s use of drugs and alcohol to the baby boomer demographics. The differences required for the assessment and treatment of these two generations will be discussed. Even though the issues of opioid use have been designated a major health issue, little is said of the high rates of addiction and death that are experienced by older adults. Recognizing substance use disorders in older adults can be difficult.  However, given the rise of these at-risk populations, it is crucial that we understand and address these issues promptly and effectively. Finally, screening and treatment will be discussed, with an emphasis on the holistic approach, as older adults are more likely to have a co-occurring physical, behavioral, and/or cognitive disorder. 
  • “Working with individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Chronic Mental Illness as they Age”- It is well documented that as individuals age, they become “increasingly vulnerable to mental health disorders”. The loss of friends, and family, exacerbated by the loss of supports, mobility, failing vision and hearing can lead to isolation. For individuals with chronic mental illness or intellectual disabilities these social losses as well as age-related physical changes, and complicated medical problems increase the risk of hospitalization and potential institutionalization.  The goals of this training  to offer providers and caregivers of individuals with chronic mental illness and intellectual disabilities, an understanding of normal age-related changes, potential issues with delirium and risks of dementia. Each of these issues will be discussed in detail, including symptoms, interventions and resources.  It is hoped at the end of this presentation community professionals will work across systems to enable all older adults to remain active members of their communities. 
  • “Understanding Hoarding Behaviors” – Compulsive hoarding was originally defined as “acquisition of/failure to discard possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value” (Frost; Hartl 1996). Though these behaviors have become a fascination to many, hoarding is a social and mental health concern. The public has become more aware of individuals with hoarding behaviors through the media, and this education has encouraged many to seek needed help. Individuals who have hoarding behaviors suffer from a difficulty to discard belongings, due to their “emotional attachment” to the objects. This webinar will discuss hoarding as a disease, the new DSM 5 criteria, demographics, and assessment. Treatment interventions will be reviewed  as well as community-based care. The need for development of “hoarding task forces” will be discussed. Understanding the complexity of treatment for individuals who have “hoarding” behaviors will be also be reviewed.
  • “Evidenced-Based Practices for Aging in Place” – The changing demographics within our country implores us to find the means to serve older adults in our communities. Even though our knowledge of aging has increased, we still need to find alternatives to keep older adults independent and active within their communities. The necessity of working with other community systems and providers, and bridging “silos,” is imperative. This presentation will review evidenced-based practices in serving community-residing older adults and will emphasize prevention and mutual cooperation between institutional systems. This “inter-disciplinary approach,” working across service systems, will address the multiple needs of older individuals, enabling a community approach for geriatric independence.  Proven and evidenced-based practices will be presented with resources for implementation.
  • “Compassion Fatigue” – In the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, professional and family caregivers are facing an increasing number of stressors. Driven by vast uncertainty, there is a desire to help. However, this is often mired by the ongoing struggle to protect oneself and one’s family, as well as one’s clients. This overwhelming “angst” can produce physical and emotional responses that, at times, seem inescapable. This webinar will address the differences between “compassion fatigue,” secondary or “vicarious” trauma, and burnout. We will define the components of “compassion fatigue”  and the striking differences between compassion and empathy. Most importantly, we will discuss why some of us suffer from compassion fatigue more “personally,” and how we can learn to “protect” ourselves from its negative effects. Finally, we will present “tools” that allow us to stay healthy, not only physically, but emotionally as well. We will discuss what we can do to protect ourselves, while still engaging with our clients. Additionally, we will review how management and support staff can enable and assist caregivers in ensuring the safety of our friends, families, and clients. 
  • “Mental Health Issues during COVID” – The mental health effects and disparities that have surfaced during the pandemic are continuing to be assessed.  The rates of anxiety, depression and suicide were documented in the late summer of 2020 and more startling statistics are still surfacing. As we begin to re-enter society, this is time to critically look at the issues that have come to light and put in place supports and systems to connect those at “risk”.  We  will review the rates of anxiety, depression and suicide in our country and identify those at greatest risk. We will discuss the impact of social isolation and loneliness has had on individuals and caregivers. In conclusion we will discuss implications for the future and interventions for communities. 

Please contact Linda Shumaker at optimizeaging@gmail.com or 717 503-2643 for further information