Graduating officers learn more about how to help those with dementia

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 8:32 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Kansas City Regional Police Academy is getting ready to send out a graduating class of officers this week.

Before being sworn in, 18 recruits are receiving a first-of-its-kind training.

The program is a collaboration between the academy and Senior Star at Wexford Place, teaching that dementia is not just a cognitive disease.

The program director, Marsha Rufener, said it affects all five senses and can impact someone’s whole world.

Giving understanding and empathy is the “why” behind the curriculum, with the goal of officers slowing down a bit when they sense that they could be responding to someone with dementia.

Officers in training put on Oculus headsets to step into the virtual reality of a person with dementia.

“I was feeling terrified and lost at the same time. The clock was spinning, the watch was spinning, past due bills were in the bathroom, someone was knocking on the door. There were so many things going on at the same time that you had no idea what was going on,” says Brett Apostol, a police academy recruit.

This program was initially created for family members of those who struggle with the disease. Now the goal is to continue getting it out into the community.

If you have an organization you think could benefit from it, email Marsha Rufener at mrufener@seniorstar.com.