Fire Fighters, Sherrif’s Deputies Learn Hands-On About Dementia, Alzheimer’s

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The Wheeling Fire Department along with the Ohio County Sheriff’s department are taking a unique tour experiencing the way many elderly people in the community struggle.

The virtual tour presented by Right At Home in Wheeling mimicked what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s and Dementia symptoms. As each fire fighter finished, they tell me it was much more challenging than they thought.

Fire fighters put on heavy gloves, macular degeneration glasses, sound distorting headphones, and neuropathy shoe inserts that affected all of their senses. Then, they were asked to complete everyday tasks like put on a jacket, take pills out of a bottle, put change in a purse, tell time, set the table, make a list and more.

As several fire fighters finished they said vision was not their biggest challenge, they are used to working in low visibility, but remembering the list of tasks and working with the gloves was difficult.

Chief Helms said his crews frequently deal with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and have a new appreciation for them.

“To be quite honest with you, I thought I had an understanding but after running through the course, it’s much more difficult for the patient than I had anticipated,” said Chief Larry Helms, Wheeling Fire Department.

“I’m sure there are times when they’re called out to a scene or to wherever, and know there’s people who, family members, who have people who are belligerent with dementia so it’s just more of an educational thing for them,” said Susan Cookman, Marketing Manager, Right at Home Wheeling.

Many of the fire fighters say they have elderly grandparents or parents who they now understand a little better too.

Right at Home says even without going through the virtual tour they hope people remember to have patience it could be your family member who is struggling.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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