Law enforcement agencies say Alzheimer's is becoming a growing p - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Law enforcement agencies say Alzheimer's is becoming a growing problem

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Madison (WKOW)-- Of all the types of emergencies police officers, fire fighters and EMT's respond to on a daily basis, Alzheimer's Disease isn't one that most people think about. The disease is typically associated with senior care centers and retirement communities, but law enforcement officers say the issue is becoming a bigger part of their daily lives.

"We've seen a startling increase in calls in recent years," Alzheimer's response trainer Hank Levenson says.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's once every 68 seconds. There's a 60% chance that they will wander off or get lost at least once in their lifetime. That is where local law enforcement agencies come in. Officers say they're being called out to an increasing amount Alzheimer's related situations.

"Not knowing how to recognize that it may be Alzheimer's, you look at it as possibly someone who is just being uncooperative, somebody that might have been drinking," Levenson says.

The issue has prompted the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to organize a nationwide training initiative. A team of trainers is currently traveling to several cities across the country to teach officers the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's. On Monday they held a training session at Madison College for nearly a hundred police officers and first responders from across the state of Wisconsin.

"Wandering is a huge issue with Alzheimer's patients. If someone is out in the weather, on the street, inappropriately dressed, officers and first responders need to understand that is not a deliberate act that they're doing," trainer Deborah Thompson says.

One of the most important lessons that instructors are teaching first responders and officers is that if they come across someone who might have Dementia or Alzheimer's is to not run the sirens or the lights on their vehicles. They say the patient may become confused or violent in that situation. Trainers say violent behavior is already a major concern in Alzheimer's situations. Law enforcement agencies receive numerous domestic violence calls every year. By knowing how to deal with these patients, officers are hoping to not only protect the patients and their families, but other people in their community as well.

"It's a huge issue and it's only going to increase in magnitude. It's not going to reverse," Thompson says. "It's not just people who are 65 and older anymore. It's people who are in their 30's and 40's. It's really becoming a big issue."

Family members and care givers looking for information should visit the following websites:


Alzheimer's Association: https://www.alz.org/

25 Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20416288_2,00.html

Tips for Giving Alzheimer's Care: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/caregivers/in-depth/alzheimers-caregiver/art-20047577

Alzheimer's Association: Caregiver Resource Center: http://www.alz.org/care/overview.asp



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