Gabe Rimolo finished his night shift at Elkton police department last Friday morning but it wasn't time to go home yet.
First, the officer had to complete a series of tasks such as matching up socks, clearing a dinner table, and threading a belt into a pair of pants. Rimolo was just one of the officers and town staffers who completed training on dealing with a unique part of the population - those struggling with dementia.
Officer Rimolo suited up in these items and was then led to a room. He was given a list of five tasks to complete while wearing the simulation items. He was given five minutes to put a belt in belt loops, match up pairs of socks, clear a dining table, draw a picture of his family and name the members, and put on a necktie. Staff are not allowed to repeat the items or provide coaching in anyway.
Rimolo knew he wasn't going to do well. "I only heard three of the instructions I think," he said. He quickly put the belt in the loops of a pair of pants. He then matched up the socks. "Yep. I forgot what else I'm supposed to do," he said. "This is difficult. I'm at a loss. This is a strange situation to be in."
Since he wasn't sure of the other instructions, he improvised. Rimolo poured a glass of water at the table he was supposed to clear. "This is frustrating," he said.
Following the five minutes of tasks, Rimolo reviewed his work with a staffer. He experienced pacing, negative thoughts, and talked to himself, just as those stricken with dementia do. He was then given tips on dealing with those with dementia and a pocket guide to carry with him.
"For me, this has been interesting. I felt stressed during the training. But it was cool to get an understanding of what goes on with them," he said.