Kensington Place has been training first responders in recognizing dementia and improving interactions with affected.

There are currently numerous cases across the country where someone stands before a judge with no memory of the offense that landed them in handcuffs and hot water. According to a recent article in the Journal of American Medicine, some dementias like Frontotemporal Dementia are actually more likely to present with criminal behavior.

A case in Washington state was dismissed in May when the judge ruled the 79 year old defendant was not competent to be tried for the crime of hitting and killing a motorcyclist due to dementia. In Fresno, an elderly woman is accused of killing her husband, covering him in newspaper and going about her routine until neighbors intervened. A 73 year old Moreno Valley man careened into a home causing minor injuries and major property damage.

Seniors without the ability to comprehend that their actions are indeed serious “crimes” such as vehicular homicide, domestic violence, theft, and possession can confound law enforcement, judges, and families who all try to work with justice and compassion.

That is why Kensington Place Redwood City has been reaching out to local law enforcement and other emergency responders to share tips for assessing a situation where someone with dementia may be involved and techniques of how to gain information, consent, and cooperation.

Officers are finding it helpful to understand the makeup of the neighborhoods that they serve. The appreciate that there are resources available and how to reach out before a crisis occurs. Knowing that 1 in 9 Americans over the age of 65 will have some type of dementia with that number jumping to 1 in 3 over 85 is useful in assessing the risk of someone having dementia when responding to a 911 call. Understanding what to look for once in the home, where to look in case of a Silver Alert are all components of the overall seminar which can be staged in short 15-30 minute sessions.

“It was a pleasure working with Kensington Place and the information they provided was very helpful. I have shared with other agencies who would benefit.” – Atherton Police Department’s Training Manager, Jennifer Frew

“Many people do not realize that 100-plus types of dementia currently affect more than 5.5 million Americans. The need is here and now,” noted Executive Director John Graham citing National Institutes of Health statistics, “and it is important that everyone with resources come together to create supports for seniors in their communities.”

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