CHARLESTON, WV – West Virginia police cadets will now be required to receive two hours of specialized instruction on how to identify and communicate with those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia after legislation passed the West Virginia Legislature.
On Tuesday, April 19, Governor Jim Justice signed the historic legislation into law, benefiting all West Virginians with dementia or Alzheimer’s, during a signing ceremony at 10 a.m. at the State Capitol. Alzheimer’s Association statistics show that six in 10 individuals with dementia will wander. With 39,000 West Virginians ages 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s, that is a potential for 23,400 interactions with a first responder.
“We are grateful to our lead sponsor, Sen. Ron Stollings, as well as our advocates in both chambers for championing this critical legislation to protect the health, safety, and dignity of those with Alzheimer’s and to ensure that law enforcement personnel are well trained and equipped to encounter people with Alzheimer’s and dementia and provide peace of mind for caregivers around the state,” said David Zielonka, Public Policy Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter.
Sharon Covert, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter, said the Chapter partnered with a law enforcement coalition that included the West Virginia State Fraternal Order of Police, the West Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, and the West Virginia Chiefs of Police Association, as well as others, to ensure that all new law enforcement personnel undergo the training.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive, fatal brain disease that kills nerve cells and tissues in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan, speak, walk. In the United States, more than 6 million people have the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. If you or your loved one has Alzheimer’s and you need assistance, call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.