DARIEN — For Kim Babcock, providing services to families in need is a passion.

In 2002, her husband Dave’s father passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes. His family found it difficult to find well-trained and capable caregivers despite an extensive search. Now, Babcock and her husband own a Right at Home business in Darien and are proud to serve Fairfield County families.

The 54-year-old discussed being recently certified as a Dementia Live coach and how it benefits the community.

Q: To people who don’t know, what is Dementia Live?

A: Dementia Live is a program developed basically to give people an experience of what people suffering from dementia might be going through. So it’s just a quick program we put people through. They come in and we use some equipment — headphones, goggles and stuff — to try and imitate what dementia is like. We bring the caregivers, either our caregivers or family caregiver, in and we introduce them to the concept of dementia. Then we put this equipment on and ask them to perform simple tasks.

What would happen is they now understand how difficult it is for the people living with dementia to accomplish these simple tasks. So it just gives them a little bit of a glimpse into the practical everyday life of a dementia patient.

Q: How did you become involved with this program?

A: We learned about the program, its through a company called Age-u-cate. We learned about this program and just decided it’s something that would benefit the people we serve and our caregivers. The more they (their caregivers) understand dementia, the better they will be able to take care of our clients who have dementia. It just sounded like a great opportunity to continue the education for our caregivers.

Q: What is a Dementia Live coach?

A: We’re more in depth in dementia understanding, how the disease progresses and stuff like that. We’re trained to facilitate the experience with our caregivers so that we can observe and make sure people are getting the right experience out of it. Sometimes it can be a little emotional or overwhelming. We can look for signs with the people we are putting through the experience to pull them out if need be. Then we do a follow up conversation afterwards. We’re trained to give them some guidance on how to work with dementia patients. So it’s a full complete learning experience. So we’re trained as coaches to facilitate the experience.

Q: What are the qualifications?

A: We went through a several-day seminar on learning background on dementia. Then learning the specifics of how to put the people through the program. It was a two-part, two-day seminar. Then we had to do some hands-on training in between, then we had to pass a test to be sure. We have to get recertified every year. They want to make sure the people out there are promoting the program and using the program the way it was intended to as opposed to just saying, “Yeah we know a little about dementia,” and trying to go out and use bits and pieces of it. The intention is not to teach anybody the science or medicine of dementia, but more of the hands-on how do you relate to a person with dementia.

Q: How do you get people involved?

A: Currently we’re doing a couple things. We’re working with training our own caregivers, which we feel is very important that our own caregivers are sensitive to the needs of our dementia patients. We’re also working with some of the assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities in the area. We reached out to them and help trained their caregivers and their family members. Now that we’re certified we’re hoping to bring it out to the community. Work with senior centers, work with local public safety-potentially fire, police. The more people we can train the better off. We want to make sure that more and more of the community at large is aware of dementia.

dj.simmons@

hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568