The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently recognized the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) for its efforts to improve services for travelers living with dementia. TSA bestowed its Disability and Medical Conditions Community Award upon AFA in recognition of the foundation’s collaborative efforts with TSA to improve the agency’s ability to serve travelers with dementia at airports nationwide.
“AFA is pleased to work with the TSA to make traveling easier and more pleasant for individuals living with dementia-related illnesses and are honored to be recognized for our efforts,” said AFA President & CEO Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. “Traveling can be challenging for someone living with dementia. Large crowds, noises, impatient individuals, and unfamiliar surroundings at busy airports can cause confusion, disorientation, overstimulation, and/or agitation. Training TSA staff about how they can and should engage with someone living with a dementia-related illness is essential to providing them a positive travel experience.”
“Traveling can be a very stressful experience for individuals with dementia and those who are supporting the person. Changes in the environment, loud crowds of people, bright lights, everyone trying to get to their destination as fast as possible – all these factors can contribute to causing the person serious distress,” said Jennifer Reeder, LCSW, AFA’s Director of Educational and Social Services. “TSA is helping to reduce distress and create an easier experience just by being patient, understanding, and taking the steps to create a sense of safety for the individual and their companion.”
“The coalition is our way of sharing information with the different communities about what we do at TSA, and at the same time, also hear from them about what’s working for them and what’s not,” said David Pekoskie, TSA Administrator. “While the coalition is an information sharing approach, the other important piece is we have access to the subject matter expertise of these organizations to help us develop training products for our workforce.”
TSA security officers and staff protect and serve travelers at U.S. airports which are used by approximately 2 million passengers each day.
Over the years, AFA has worked with TSA to train frontline personnel about dementia-related illnesses, identifying signs that someone may have a cognitive impairment and ways to positively interact and communicate with individuals who have dementia.
TSA presented the award to AFA at the 20th Annual TSA Disability and Multicultural Coalition Conference. The coalition includes advocacy and community-based organizations representing 450 multicultural and religious communities, people with disabilities and medical conditions, civil rights and civil liberties advocates, and federal government partners across the country. TSA’s Disability and Multicultural Branch collaborates with the coalition to learn, improve and enhance the agency’s security practices, making them more inclusive and safer for all travelers.