Law Enforcement Agencies In Our Region Receive Training on dealing with Individuals who have Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or Autism

By Jeffrey J. Downey, nursing home abuse attorney serving Maryland, Virginia, and the District
of Columbia

In their daily work, law enforcement agencies across the country encounter individuals with mental acuity disabilities at least 50 percent of their active-duty time. Specific disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s dementia, and autism pose greater challenges, and call for more detailed training.

In many cases, more than 50 percent of residents of a nursing home are autistic or have some form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s association.  It is important that law enforcement officials understand the unique needs and vulnerabilities of this group, explains nursing home attorney Jeffrey J. Downey.

The Virginia government is sponsoring important training that should be made available to all those government officials who deal with demented or cognitively impaired long-term care residents. This training encompasses one- to two-day sessions where officers learned about behaviors that distinguish a person with these mental-acuity disabilities from other conditions.  The training can involve how to communicate with the caregivers, usually the first responders in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

In our region, state laws in Virginia and Maryland mandate that the training be offered, while in the District of Columbia, the Department of Homeland Security offers such training. You can check the link here to see what is being offered in Virginia next year.

A common occurrence for law enforcement in an encounter includes auto accidents, erratic driving, false reports and victimization, indecent exposure, and homicide.

“Especially with individuals with these conditions, it is important for law enforcement to realize what he or she is dealing with when coming upon the scene of an individual who has such disabilities,” explains Downey.  If a police officer is investigating criminal neglect in a nursing home, he needs to understand that such a case cannot be built upon the testimony of the demented resident.   Additional evidence, including expert assessments and record reviews may be required.

Residents and their families can protect their loved ones by contacting their state agencies when a loved one limited mental awareness has been abused.  I’ve have provided a link to these organizations in our region. It is important that suspected abuse be reported immediately, or else important evidence or information may be lost.

As our population ages, the concerns are being brought to the forefront of the law enforcement community.  The training for dealing with individuals who have mental-acuity disabilities could save a life.

If you know a loved one who is suffering from some form of autism, Alzheimer’s, or dementia, that has been injured as a result of negligence on the part of a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey, P.C. for a free consultation.

Contact Information:

The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey

8270 Greensboro Drive, Suite 810

McLean, VA 22102

Phone: 703-564-7318 or 703-564-7357

Fax: 703-883-0108