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School hosts aging and developmental disabilities training in Raleigh

On Jan. 29, individuals with developmental disabilities, families, providers and other community members gathered at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church in Raleigh for a day of training about dementia, entitled: “Planning for Changes that Come with Aging and Developmental Disabilities: Recognizing and Understanding Early Signs of Dementia.”

The training was organized and hosted by the Developmental Disabilities Training Institute (DDTI) of the Jordan Institute for Families in the UNC School of Social Work; and Support Works, Inc., a private, nonprofit organization that supports individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in Wake County.

“People are living longer due to advances in medical care and treatment; likewise, the life expectancy of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities has increased significantly in the past decade,” said Chris Egan, DDTI coordinator. “With increased life expectancy comes the risk of developing diseases of advanced age such as dementia. Education is critical to ensure that individuals receive the highest quality of care. Both professional and family caregivers need the knowledge and tools to handle the challenges that this disease will bring.”

Two presenters shared the day’s training in an interactive format, incorporating information and addressing characteristics of the aging population, various clinical assessments and effective methods of providing services and support. Trainers Melanie Bunn, RN, MS and Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA have a combined 50-plus years of experience working in various capacities in clinical settings serving individuals with and without developmental disabilities who are aging. Bunn works at Duke University developing the skills of nurses in long-term care and teaches nursing and physician assistant students. Snow has clinical appointments with Duke University’s School of Nursing and UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine. Both speakers are recognized and well-respected for their contributions statewide and nationally.

DDTI and Support Works intended to promote diverse attendance including individuals with disabilities, those in support roles and others interested in the topic, by hosting the event on a Saturday and offering a very reasonable registration fee.