Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Waukegan Fire Chief George Bridges Jr. was invited to a training session in North Chicago for public-safety personnel to become more capable of handling patients with dementia and, once he went through it, he decided he wanted his personnel to get the training as well. The number of these patients is just going to increase as baby boomers get older.

The training consists of two parts. One has participants wear goggles and gloves and then sort Skittles candies or playing cards. The second part is an explanation of the biological process behind dementia and how to handle patients.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is a decline in memory or other thinking skills to the point where it has reduced a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia has been estimated to affect about 6 percent to 10 percent of people ages 65 and older — and can reach 40 percent for people over 90, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Sixty to 80 percent of dementia cases are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the association. The second largest cause is vascular dementia, which can occur after a stroke, followed by Lewy bodies dementia, which is associated with Parkinson’s disease.

The World Health Organization reports the total number of new cases of dementia each year worldwide is nearly 9.9 million, meaning there is one new case every three seconds. The number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 75 million in 2030 and 132 million in 2050. 

Those interested in more information on training or to become part of the effort can call 847-984-0103 or 847-962-9549.

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