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New Mexico State University

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NMSU College of Health and Social Services faculty and staff attend Dementia 24/7 course

Getting dressed in the morning is, for most of us, a simple routine that may include buttons, zippers and laces. But for people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer?s disease, it can be a frustrating task to both an individual and caregiver.

A man holds a square container lid in the front of a classroom.
Thomas Teasdale, a professor and vice chair at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, leads a training session on Dementia 24/7 with the faculty and staff in the College of Health and Social Services. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)
A woman (center) wraps a woman?s finger (left) while another woman looks on (right).
Cheryl Lombardi, college assistant professor in the New Mexico State School of Nursing, is a facilitator for a station of the Dementia 24/7 program. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)

To understand the difficulty those with memory loss experience, faculty and staff members from New Mexico State University?s College of Health and Social Services participated in a Dementia 24/7 training in March.

This event was part of NMSU?s three-year Comprehensive Geriatric Education grant for $810,000 from Health Resources and Services Administration, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, received by the School of Nursing in 2012 for the Enhancing Capacity for Aging on the Border project.

Thomas Teasdale, a professor and vice chair at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and developer of the Dementia 24/7 kit, conducted training for faculty and staff who will now be trainers for the Southern New Mexico region. After the training session, members of the community and other faculty and staff received training to help healthcare providers and family members understand the difficulty patients have to live with on a daily basis.

?It?s just wonderful that we have such an excellent relationship with Dr. Teasdale and Oklahoma GEC (Geriatric Education Center) that he is able to come down here and do train the trainer,? said Kristynia Robinson, NMSU nursing associate professor and principal investigator on the grant.

?It raised emotions in all of us who participated,? said Kimberly Hill, program manager for the grant at NMSU. ?We have 40 people that are going to participate to see what it is like to experience memory loss. We got a little insight into what?s it like to lose driving privileges, what?s it like to have someone take away your cell phone; and, what?s it like if you can?t find the word and someone?s talking to you and having the experience where you can?t communicate back.?

The Dementia 24/7 kit uses simple materials such as vision impairment glasses, earplugs and mirrors to provide hands-on training stations. All five exercises are designed to simulate handling everyday tasks.

?We did a train-the-trainer session so we can go out and share it with the community to raise awareness and to make us better providers. Raising awareness about memory loss is vital with new generations joining the geriatric population. We have the baby boomers coming of age now and there are 70 million of them, many of whom will need care in the future. The training helps us understand what it is like to age with an illness like dementia,? Hill said.

Hill said the school of nursing will lend the Dementia 24/7 kits to other programs, and she hopes they can provide classes for interested community groups.

?We are going to share the kits with everybody in the college that wants to check them out and have that experience with their students and are hoping to share the knowledge with all of our faculty members,? she said.