Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging

Learn how this agency developed a Dementia Friendly First Responder Training Program specifically for law enforcement and other first responders.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2020 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging's Dementia Friendly Training program. The agency was a 2020 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Community Planning & Livable Communities category. The 2020 AIA Awards were made possible thanks to the support of Centene.
Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A) received a grant in 2017 to develop the Dementia Friendly Training Toolkit and Training Program for law enforcement officers and first responders in a five-county region. The training curriculum features three sections: How to Become Dementia Knowledgeable, How to Become Dementia Sensitive and How to Become Dementia Responsive. First responders also complete an aging simulation exercise and gain knowledge on AAA programs, resources and services.
Upon completion of the training, local departments are designated as dementia friendly and receive framed certificates, laminated posters and stickers to display their new status. To date, more than 1,700 first responders have completed the training, with their local police and fire departments receiving an official dementia friendly designation.
“Our Dementia Friendly Training team has worked diligently over the last two years to continuously improve and expand our training program, and work with our local first responder partnerships to create and deliver other innovative projects and initiatives to better serve our local communities,” said Robyn James, Development and Marketing Director at M4A.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic was an enormous roadblock to the training initiative, M4A was able to adapt to this interference by launching a training website specifically designed for first responders.
To learn more about the Dementia Friendly Training Connect program and how your agency can replicate this program in your community, contact Robyn James,

For more information about the 2020 winners, see the press release and read the book of winners! To read about past winners and find other best practices for your agency to consider, visit our Best Practices Clearinghouse page.



USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2023 winners!