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Suburban Firefighters To Get Special Training On Treating Dementia Patients

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Dementia is estimated to affect about 5 million Americans and, next Wednesday, some members of the Lake Zurich Fire Department will be trained in some of the best ways to handle dementia patients.

Lake Zurich Fire Department training division chief Mickey Wenzel said, with a number of nursing homes in his community, it's important for firefighter-paramedics to be ready to deal with people who suffer forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease.

"There's just a large handful of people that have dementia in this area, and we have to deal with them all the time, and care for them, and t's important that we know how to do it properly," he said.


At Silverado Lake Zurich nursing home next week, about 15 firefighter-paramedics will be putting on special devices – glasses, headphones and shoe inserts – that give them some of the same feelings of disorientation and lack of awareness felt by people who really have dementia.

"They'll kind of put us into that situation, so that we will be able to feel what it's like to have some type of dementia issues," Wenzel said.

The chief said he's been out on calls during his career when he's had to deal with people who had dementia.

"It's just a matter of trying to keep the person calm and explain to them what's happening at all times, so that they understand, and we don't scare them or put them on edge because of our action," he said.

The Silverado Lake Zurich Memory Care Community is offering its Virtual Dementia Tour not just to the Lake Zurich Fire Department, but to the general public as well next Wednesday.

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