Editor,

I found your article about the new policies and training programs that San Mateo Police Chief Barberini is adding very interesting (“San Mateo police chief shines light on hiring practices and diversity” in the Sept. 9 edition of the Daily Journal.

As a former caregiver of a family member who had Alzheimer’s disease, I was especially pleased to learn that Chief Barberini is introducing training provided by the Alzheimer’s Association that will educate officers in the best practices for interacting with those suffering from that disease and I thank Chief Barberini for his leadership in this matter.

There are more than 14,000 San Mateo residents who are currently living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and 70% of these individuals are living in the community and not in any type of care facility. As the number of these individuals rise, so will their interactions with first responders such as police officers, EMTs, etc. Unfortunately, these professionals currently receive little or no training about the unique needs of individuals living with dementia. Individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia are at a heightened risk of elder abuse because they often have difficulty understanding or explaining situations and their behavior may be viewed by police officers as uncooperative, disruptive or combative.

It is important to know that the bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act (H.R.6813) would improve elder abuse training for these professionals, specifically on dementia.

Please join me in thanking U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, for co-sponsoring and supporting this important piece of bipartisan legislation which will help protect these individuals from elder abuse.

Judy Smith-Kennedy

Foster City

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