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Aneesha Jean DNP, RN, CNE School of Nursing & Public Health
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Aneesha Jean DNP, RN, CNE
School of Nursing & Public Health

Nursing students in Dr. Aneesha Jean’s Community/Public Health Clinical course are looking forward to helping run a conference for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and intellectual and developmental disabilities while engaging with professional nonprofits and other organizations.  

“We have worked for months now in collaboration with the agency HomeCare Options to host our caregiver event,” said Samantha Guerra, a senior student in Dr. Jean’s class. “This program will be not only informative but also encouraging to all caregivers and attendees to care for self  so that they may be able to care for their loved ones.” 

The no-cost, in-person conference is open to the public and will be held at the University on Thursday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the University’s Student Center Gym. 

Jean says this project is a wonderful opportunity for the nursing students to learn more about collaborating with outside entities and see how their work can have a positive effect on the community.   “They are gaining experience in communication, group dynamics, resources management and  how to engage with organizations that have shared interests in having a bigger impact on community health.” She is happy that since the start of their nursing curriculum the students have gained extensive knowledge in the care of individual clients and their families. “In the  Community/Public Health course the students build on this knowledge and learn about caring for the community as the client. The overall goal of the course is to identify needs of vulnerable populations and interventions that will have a greater impact on the population at large. The students are learning to look upstream for solutions to health problems and prevent negative outcomes experienced by populations at risk,” said Jean.  

The nursing students are responsible for creating health teaching for the target population and working with campus offices such as facilities and food services to plan for the event.  They  will assist with  check-in, navigation, distribution of resources and coordinating of the caregiver blessing, which will be read by Sister Joanne Beirne, O.P.  

The conference will include an overview of Alzheimer’s disease in the I/DD population, how to design a comprehensive plan, and a review of community resources.  Speakers will be Seth Keller, MD, Neurology Associates of South Jersey and co-President of the National Task Group; Ellen Nalven, Executive Director of Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey (PLAN/NJ); and Leone Murphy, administrator for the statewide Clinical Outreach Program for the Elderly (S-COPE) for Trinitas Regional Medical Center.

“Studies have shown that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, particularly those with Down syndrome, are at increased risk of dementia,” said Diane Silbernagel, executive director of HomeCare Options, one of the conference sponsors.  “Average dementia onset may be as much as 10 years prior to that experienced by the general population.  That’s why it’s so important for caregivers to have the people they care for regularly screened for dementia and to be proactive in addressing any issues.”

This conference is a collaboration between HomeCare Options, Alzheimer New Jersey®, and Caldwell University, School of Nursing and Public Health.  It is supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Alzheimer’s Disease Program Initiative, Department of Health and Human Services. 

Alzheimer’s New Jersey is collaborating with Home Care Options to provide services under the Alzheimer’s Disease Program Initiative including coordination on this conference day.

Dr. Keller, a board certified neurologist in private practice, specializes in the evaluation and care of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with neurologic complications.  He is actively involved in national and international I/DD health education as a speaker and webinar and workshop participants, and frequently writes articles and book chapters relating to aging and dementia among those with I/DD.

Ms. Murphy is an integral member of the statewide Clinical Outreach Program for the Elderly (S-COPE), Crisis Assessment Response and Enhanced Services (CARES) and Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project (GWEP) for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO). She holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

Ms. Nalven educates families on the importance of life planning to promote independent living and quality of life for individuals with disabilities.  She serves as a legal guardian and trustee for special needs trusts and oversees the delivery of case management, advocacy and life planning services as executive director of PLAN/NJ.

Pre-registration is required.  Register online at or call 888-280-6055.

About the Sponsors

Since 1985, Alzheimer’s New Jersey has played a crucial role in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease in the Garden State by providing education and support programs benefiting the 600,000 New Jersey residents battling Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Alzheimer’s New Jersey is not part of the Alzheimer’s Association.  Services are available statewide.  To learn more visit

Homecare Options has served the home care needs of patients in northern New Jersey since 1954.  It is one of a handful of agencies across the nation to receive the Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative (ADPI). This program is intended to increase dementia-related awareness, develop dementia-capability in communities and agencies, and provide in-home support services to caregivers. ADPI also uses evidence-based interventions to help meet the needs of those who support persons living with Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias, and developmental disabilities. 

Caldwell University’s School of Nursing and Public Health offers three pre-licensure educational tracks for the Bachelor of Science in nursing–traditional, transfer and a second degree. The University also has a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education and a Master of Science in Nursing program focused on population health. In fall 2022, the University will launch a Master of Science in nursing with a palliative care nursing track.  

More about Caldwell

Caldwell University is a four-year, Catholic Dominican university, founded by the Sisters of Saint Dominic located in the community of Caldwell, New Jersey, named one of the most beautiful downtown communities in New Jersey. Caldwell University is one of the most affordable private universities in New Jersey and was named a regional Best Value School by U.S. News & World Report for 2022.

Approximately 2,100 students are enrolled each year, with more than 500 residing in one of three residence halls, many of whom compete on one of Caldwell’s 15 NCAA Division II Athletic teams or in competitive sprint football or rugby programs. Caldwell has been designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the United States Department of Education.

With degrees ranging from the bachelor’s to the Ph.D., Caldwell offers unique programs such as Art Therapy, Esports Management, Supply Chain Management, Nursing, and Applied Behavior Analysis along with more traditional majors and programs. Caldwell’s academic programs are supported by an undergraduate core that emphasizes the liberal arts and sciences to educate citizens to pursue truth and contribute to a just society. Core values of respect, integrity, respect, integrity, community and excellence define the Caldwell experience. Learn more here: