FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 29, 2007
Alzheimer's Foundation of America Honors Dementia Care Professional of the Year
NEW YORK, NY— In Broward County, FL, the Coral Springs (FL) Police Department “has a mantra: If it involves a senior, call Cindy,” according to police officer Kerry Draddy. He's referring to his colleague, Cynthia Heafy, a certified elder crime practitioner and certified geriatric care manager who has worked with seniors with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia for more than a decade.
Dementia Care Professionals of America (DCPA), a division of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA), has recognized Heafy's dedication by awarding her “Dementia Care Professional of the Year.”
Heafy is the first recipient of this new award for dementia care professionals. DCPA will present the award annually to an individual who has demonstrated professional excellence in care, compassionate performance above and beyond expectations, and a dedicated commitment to individuals with dementia
“DCPA's mission is to raise the bar on dementia care. With this award, we are identifying exceptional individuals involved in dementia care and celebrating their accomplishments,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.
“Professionals like Cynthia Heafy are making a difference in their communities, by going that extra mile for the families they serve,” he added.
DCPA presented Heafy with the award during AFA's 2nd National Concepts in Care Conference, held October 28 and 29 at the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia.
Heafy has worked for the Coral Springs Police Department for the past 27 years. As the department's community involvement coordinator, she investigates senior abuse cases, is a first responder in cases involving individuals with dementia, makes arrangements for those who can no longer live alone, and ensures that long-term care facilities are in compliance.
By coincidence, Heafy said, while she was already entrenched in her career, her mother developed dementia and passed away in 2004.
Draddy, Heafy's co-worker, nominated her for the award because of her goal to “assist seniors in any way that she can,” he said. “If there is any senior-related issue, Cindy is right in the middle of it.”
Another colleague, Frank Imparato, said Heafy responds to calls “all hours day and night.”
“She has been known to pick [seniors] up at the hospital and give them a ride home off-duty or allowing a caretaker to call her when they are stressed out just to talk,” he noted.
In addition, Heafy trains police officers and firefighters on how to deal with seniors with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. She also was instrumental in setting up Project Lifesaver, a rapid response system to track wanderers, in the Coral Springs community.
“This award brings badly needed attention to the need for other police departments throughout the country to have someone specifically dedicated to deal with seniors, especially those with dementia,” Heafy said.
DCPA will accept applications for its 2008 Dementia Care Professional of the Year Award until September 1, 2008. The professional can be nominated by peers, colleagues, employers, clients or clients' families. Nominees do not need to be affiliated with DCPA or AFA. For more information and an application, visit www.careprofessionals.org.
DCPA, a membership organization for dementia care professionals, offers practical training, continuing education and qualification. Its 1,500 members include social workers, nurses, home health aides and other healthcare professionals.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of hundreds of member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families affected by Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses. For more information, visit www.alzfdn.org or call 866-232-8484.
Contact: Carol Steinberg