For the over 100,000 Washingtonians who live with dementia, social isolation can be a real challenge. One solution? A concept called dementia-friendly communities – neighborhoods, cities and counties that are equipped to support people with dementia and ensure that they can fully participate and contribute.
Around the world, various initiatives are taking place along these lines. From dementia awareness training among employees of local shops, to the development of “Alzheimer’s Cafes” in which people with memory loss and their loved ones gather to socialize in a local coffee shop, to “Dementia Friends” programs which help people know how to be supportive of those around them who have dementia, a variety of approaches can have a tremendous impact!
Here in Washington State, the Dementia Action Collaborative (DAC) has produced a fact sheet about dementia-friendly communities, which provides guidelines and concrete examples. The DAC is a voluntary public-private partnership involving multiple stakeholders who guide and support the implementation of the Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. With this fact sheet, the DAC aims to inspire and equip communities across the state to take action so that people with dementia receive the respect and support they deserve.
As a result, people with dementia can stay connected to what matters. Bob of Tacoma says, “there are people in the community where I go routinely (like Denny’s, or volunteering at the golf course) who are aware of my dementia. I am treated with acceptance, patience, and respect. I feel good about it.”
Want to learn more or consider how your county can get involved? Read the dementia-friendly fact sheet here. And fill out this 5-question survey by August 31 if you’d like to be included in future networking sessions on this topic!
– Guest post contributed by Marigrace Becker. She is the UW Memory & Brain Wellness Center Program Manager for Community Education & Impact and a DAC Member.