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Fort Lee First Responders Learning How To Deal With Alzheimer's

Michelle Foster-Carter of the Alzheimer's Association led a training for Fort Lee first responders on Oct. 8.
Michelle Foster-Carter of the Alzheimer's Association led a training for Fort Lee first responders on Oct. 8. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
Michelle Foster-Carter addresses a crowd of two dozen first responders at a Fort Lee training session.
Michelle Foster-Carter addresses a crowd of two dozen first responders at a Fort Lee training session. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
A crowd watches the Alzheimer's Disease training program at the Fort Lee Recreation Center.
A crowd watches the Alzheimer's Disease training program at the Fort Lee Recreation Center. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule

FORT LEE, NJ – Fort Lee first responders are getting training in dealing with those with Alzheimer's.

Representatives from the Alzheimer’s Association recently addressed more than two dozen officers in an evening session at the Fort Lee Recreation Center.That same night, borough council issued a proclamation recognizing Oct. 18-22 as Alzheimer’s Awareness & Support Week.

“As part of our regular training, we’ve had computer courses on how to help those special needs, but we’re appreciative that the alliance provides in-person, instructor-lead trainings,” said Police Chief Keith M. Bendul.“It may also be something that officers are dealing with in their own personal lives, so the sessions help in that way, as well,” the chief said.“We try to accommodate as many officers as possible around their shifts,” he said.

“If first responders and the community could recognize wandering, identify those with special bracelets or take advantage of alert systems, they can better assist those with the disease," said Doug Feltman, president of the Fort Lee Regional Chamber of Commerce.“You have a wide range of officers who are either already exposed to it through personal experiences, or their department is proactive about training, and then there are some that are not,” said Michelle Foster-Carter, an education and outreach coordinator with the Alzheimer’s Association. Foster-Carter has trained cadets and veterans throughout the state on crisis scenarios and how to manage those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Some of her presentations address abuse scenarios between caregivers and patients, as well as those who suspect they are being robbed or threatened. Others indicate when social service agencies should step in.Officers also learn to sort through often-complicated home-life scenarios.

“Some are just hungry for information because they have had experiences in the past and would like to know how to address situations and not add to the chaos,” Foster-Carter said.

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