Fall 2020 Newsletter
By Laura Spradley, MS
UAMS Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative (AGEC)
Why do first responders need training regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, you may ask? There are approximately 58,000 Arkansans aged 65 and older that have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, a specific type of dementia. This number is predicted to increase by 19% by 2025 when Arkansas will have approximately 67,000 older adults with Alzheimer’s disease (1). Because of this projection, first responders will increasingly need training in understanding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the behaviors sometimes associated with the disease, and how best to interact with this growing segment of our population.
The Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative is here to help. We have provided dementia training to over 1,200 first responders to date. The program is available in-person and virtually. The in-person program takes 2-3 hours to present and the virtual program can be viewed one module at a time or the six program modules may be complete consecutively, all at one time, in about 2 hours.
The program trains first responders in the basics of understanding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – the signs and symptoms and then how best to communicate with someone with dementia. Helpful communication tips and visual reinforcement scenarios are included. The program discusses important behaviors and scenarios first responders may encounter such as wandering, elopement, aggressive behaviors, delusions, repetitive behaviors, hallucinations and hoarding. AGEC also felt it important to include a module about elder abuse. This module teaches both how to recognize the signs of elder abuse and how to report possible elder abuse. The final module in the series discusses tips and scenarios on how best to assist a person with dementia in the event of a natural disaster.
Upon completion of the modules, the individual requests a certification of completion by email. This free, online program is approved for 2.0 CLEST hrs. for police and 2.0 CE hours for EMS personnel. The program has been a big success and has had participation by first responders and other health care professionals in several states.
When COVID restrictions are lifted, AGEC will once again offer the two-hour program in person. To schedule a First Responder Dementia Training Program, send your request to AGEC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a first responder, know a first responder, or know a first responder organization that may be interested in this program please share this article or information with them. Contact Laura Spradley, Outreach Coordinator with the AGEC at 501-526-7482 with additional questions.