HELENA — Over 7 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and nearly 22,000 Montanans were diagnosed in 2020, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
The Alzheimer’s Association works closely with caregivers, and family members, by providing programs and resources such as support and even a 24/7 helpline where a trained professional can assist with emotional support and even crisis care.
One program that is available is called Approaching Alzheimer’s that trains first responders to de-escalate situations involving dementia patients., whether it is wandering to abuse and neglect.
Melanie Williams with the Alzheimer’s Association says having the local law enforcement trained independently on how to help dementia patients in a safe way is vital to not traumatize the person with the disease.
“So really focusing on how can we deescalate those situations that they're not so traumatic for the person living with it they seem to have their emotional IQ, as I call it, or emotional EQ isn't as developed as it used to be and so handling strange in different situations is definitely more difficult for them as they progress in the disease,” said Williams.
The training walks through simple talking tactics, such as talking slow and keeping eye contact, in a simple acronym TALK, it gives law enforcement the ability to help the person struggling with Alzheimer’s in stressful situations, and speak to them in a way that is calming, and that will prevent aggression.
Law Enforcement is encouraged to participate in the course to identify people with dementia and make the job easier for police officers. First responders can sign up for the free training here.