Making our community more dementia friendly, one encounter at a time.
Making our community more dementia friendly, one encounter at a time.

Randy Bolsinger and his wife, Martie, had a favorite restaurant. It wasn’t the food or décor that kept them coming back. It was the warm welcome and caring service the staff offered, particularly as Martie’s Alzheimer’s disease progressed. 

Mr. Bolsinger now shares his experience with other businesses as a master trainer for a new initiative, Dementia Friendly Southern Nevada – Community Awareness Training (CAT). The key message of CAT training is that individuals with dementia should comfortably continue to live, shop, worship, travel, volunteer, and engage with their communities over the course of an illness that can span a decade. 

CAT presentations are designed with modules for employees and volunteers at businesses, faith-based communities and social service/civic organizations. The one-hour training offers practical tips and strategies to provide better service and support for persons with dementia and caregivers. The goal is to increase awareness of dementia and highlight communication techniques, physical space considerations and the importance of support for caregivers.

Mr. Bolsinger acknowledges how continuing to go to a restaurant benefitted him by getting out of the house, interacting with others, as well as getting a night off from cooking: “The staff learned how to make Martie feel special and make her smile by saying simple things like ‘that is a great choice’ or ‘that is one of  my favorites, too.’ That made me smile as her husband and caregiver.”

As part of the dementia friendly training, attendees receive a participant guide, which helps organizations follow up on areas important to them. For example, McCarran Airport participants expressed an interest in understanding how to better serve the thousands of passengers with dementia who use the airport.

Following a presentation at New Song Lutheran Church, Optics Senior Ministry is exploring how to create a more friendly physical space for congregants with dementia. They also hosted an education session to learn about normal aging, dementia and actions to improve brain health. 

Patty Duffey, Ministry Leader at New Song, explains, “A large number of seniors attend our church, and we know there are some who have been diagnosed with dementia. We appreciate the partnership with the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health so we can keep our doors open to all who want to nourish their souls.” 

Community Awareness Training is free of charge through Dementia Friendly Southern Nevada, an education and advocacy group convened by the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Trainers will come to your location. To schedule a presentation, contact Susan Hirsch, LCSW: or 702.701.7940.

Photo: Courtesy of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health; Dementia Friendly Southern Nevada – Community Awareness Training (CAT).

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