Police officers, fire fighters, paramedics and other first responders will undergo training this week in how to deal with people they encounter who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Association of the Cayman Islands is holding training sessions for first responders, as well as medical professionals and caregivers, this week in how to interact with dementia patients.
The training sessions are being offered from Monday and Thursday, Aug. 26 to 29, in partnership with the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and Americas at the Cayman Islands Hospital.
Dorothy Davis, founder and chairperson of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Association, explained that most people know little about dementia, despite its prevalence worldwide.
“Alzheimer’s, although it’s not a new disease, a lot of people in Cayman don’t know a lot about it,” she said.
The disease is the most prominent form of dementia but other forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and fronto-temporal dementia.
Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells and nerves, impacting patients’ abilities to speak, store or recall memories, and make decisions.
Due to their impaired mental capacities, special care must be taken when interacting with dementia patients. It is vital, therefore, that first responders be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of dementia in order to distinguish between a violent person and an Alzheimer’s patient suffering an aggressive outburst.
Ms Davis explained that there have been instances in other countries in which first responders have treated dementia patients with undue force.
Earlier this year, a 95-year-old World War II veteran with Alzheimer’s was killed in Illinois after police tasered and fired a “bean bag round” at the man in an attempt to subdue him during an outburst.
The training for first responders, including police, paramedics and fire fighters, will include a virtual Alzheimer’s disease experience to demonstrate what life is like for patients.
Training is being provided by Rosemary Laird, medical director for the Health First Aging Institute and the Center for Family Caregivers in Florida, and James Smith, clinical director of the Alzheimer’s Project in Florida.
For more information, email [email protected] or call 929-0832.