From first recognizing you’re hungry to remembering where the bread is stored, there are more steps involved in making a sandwich than most people realize.
Considering those implicit steps and the difficulty they pose for people living with dementia was one of the lessons of a Baraboo High School health class Friday led by Gina Laack, a dementia care specialist with the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Eagle Country.
“Simple activities like making a sandwich or getting dressed that we think are so simple can become very daunting and difficult for individuals living with dementia,” Laack said.
Through 90-minute sessions, students in Julie Jensen’s six 10th-grade health classes became the first high school students in Wisconsin to be trained as “Dementia Friends” on Thursday and Friday, according to Laack. The program, originally started in the United Kingdom, came to the U.S. as Dementia Friends USAand seeks to inform more people about what it can be like to live with dementia and how to help.
The Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute adopted the program last year and trained 38 Master Trainers, including Laack, last fall. After the local resource center contacted the Baraboo School District, Jensen took up the offer to bring a trainer to her students, noting that the topic fit in well with the health curriculum.
“I think dementia is an issue in our society and is becoming more and more of an issue,” Jensen said. “A lot of these students are actually seeing this and dealing with it in their own homes and their own families, and to give them an education on how to communicate better with their loved ones is really a good skill to have.”