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Training In Identifying Alzheimer’s Coming To W.Va. Law Enforcement

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Randy Yohe
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Gov. Jim Justice signs Senate Bill 570 into law.

Knowing the difference between someone intoxicated and someone with a brain disorder affecting memory and behavior will now be easier for West Virginia first responders.

David Zielonka, Public policy manager with the Alzheimer;s Association West Virginia Chapter said more than half of the 40,000 West Virginians with Alzheimer's disease or dementia will wander off at some point.

Gov. Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 570 into law Tuesday. It requires all new law enforcement and correction officers to undergo specialized training in how to identify and communicate with those living with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

West Virginia Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Rodney Miller said there have been some challenging incidents, and the training will be helpful for all involved.

“If they can easily recognize what folks are going through, we can let them handle them better,” MIller said. “Get them back to their caregivers easier and be a resource for caregivers as well.”

Miller says all current law enforcement personnel as well as firefighters, emergency medical technicians and dispatchers will be offered the specialized instruction as well.

The training includes understanding the risks associated with Alzheimer’s, including elder abuse and exploitation. The Alzheimer's Association West Virginia Chapter will assist the state in designing and teaching the courses.

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