NewsSoutheast Valley NewsMesa News


Tempe to train first responders to better care for those with dementia

Posted at 4:43 AM, Aug 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-14 11:38:58-04

Drivers can see the alerts flashing on Valley freeways or on their cell phones when there is a Silver Alert notification that another elderly person in the community needs help. 

We've seen many cases recently having to do with a missing person struggling with dementia. 

The most recent case coming from Mesa where a 70-year-old woman wandered from her care facility. Sadly, she was found dead last month.

But now the City of Tempe is taking action by becoming the first city in the state to train all their first responders on dementia.

The training starts with first responders putting on a different uniform -- unique gear that is geared toward giving them a new perspective. 

RELATED: Free webinar to help families with Alzheimer's care

"As a first responder, you don't know exactly how someone is, what they see and what they feel," said Tempe Firefighter Trey Ishikawa. 

The training stifles their sense by giving them gloves, headphones and goggles to wear to help simulate what is like to be suffering from dementia. 

Sadly, it is a struggle Ishikawa has seen personally. 

"My grandfather...he passed away about five years ago, but he had dementia," Ishikawa explained. "And he actually, he didn't even know who I was towards the end."  

But now he is getting the feeling of what his family member went through and he thinks it will help him better do his job.

"You might treat a patient with dementia a little bit different than someone that's fully aware with what's going on," Ishikawa said. 

"They're trained to do emergency protocols... rather, in this situation - how is it that we slow down and keep this person comfortable," said Jan Dougherty with Banner's Alzheimer's Institute. 

Beyond first responders, the next goal is to train all city employees with this, as well.

The city also provides ways for family members and loved ones to take action too with their Dementia Friendly Tempe program