Sep 3, 2013

Dementia Friendly Community Movement

In order for dementia-friendly communities to succeed, the views and opinions of people with dementia and their carers must be at the heart of any considerations or decisions.

By +Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Dementia Friendly Community Movement

The Dementia Friendly Community Movement is well underway in countries like England, Ireland, and Scotland. Sadly, in the U.S. there is little or no movement in this direction.

In the U.S. we get lots of powerful, well known, politicians and people constantly reminding us how dire the situation is, and about how the Armageddon is coming.

There are two predominant messages being delivered: send money, or give us money.

Meanwhile, very little is being done where it is most needed - in the towns, cities, and place where we live.

Not much going on down here in the grass. Read -- Honey I Shrunk the Alzheimer's Caregivers.

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The Alzheimer's Society is at the forefront of the creation of dementia-friendly communities.

Working with governments and other organisations, such as fellow members of the Dementia Action Alliance, they support communities who want to become dementia friendly.

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The Alzheimer's Society has just issued a new report -- Building dementia-friendly communities: A priority for everyone. Go here to download the report.

What is a dementia-friendly community?

A dementia-friendly community is one in which people with dementia are empowered to have high aspirations and feel confident, knowing they can contribute and participate in activities that are meaningful to them.

To achieve this, communities working to become dementia friendly should focus on the following 10 key areas:

  1. Involvement of people with dementia:

    Shape communities around the needs and aspirations of people living with dementia alongside the views of their carers. Each community will have its own diverse populations and focus must include understanding demographic variation, the needs of people with dementia from seldom heard communities and the impact of the geography e.g. rural versus urban locations.
  2. Challenge stigma and build understanding:

    Work to break down the stigma of dementia, including in seldom heard communities, and increase awareness and understanding of dementia. 
  3. Accessible community activities:

    Offer organised activities that are specific and appropriate to the needs of people with dementia. Also ensure that existing leisure services and entertainment activities are more inclusive of people with dementia. 
  4. Acknowledge potential:

    Ensure that people with dementia themselves acknowledge the positive contribution they can make to their communities. Build on the goodwill in the general public to make communities dementia-friendly. 
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  6. Ensure an early diagnosis: Ensure access to early diagnosis and post-diagnostic support. Have health and social care services that are integrated and delivering person-centred care for people with dementia in all settings. 
  7. Practical support to enable engagement in community life: Deliver a befriending service that includes practical support to ensure people with dementia can engage in community life as well as offering emotional support. 
  8. Community-based solutions: Support people with dementia in whatever care setting they live, from maintaining independence in their own home to inclusive, quality care homes. Community-based solutions to housing can prevent people from unnecessarily accessing healthcare and support people to live longer in their own homes. 
  9. Consistent and reliable travel options: Ensure that people with dementia can be confident that transport will be consistent, reliable and responsive and respectful to their needs. 
  10. Easy to navigate environments: Ensure that the physical environment is accessible and easy to navigate for people with dementia. 
  11. Respectful and responsive businesses and services: Promote awareness of dementia in all shops, businesses and services so all staff demonstrate understanding and know how to recognise symptoms. Encourage organisations to establish strategies that help people with dementia utilise their business.
Bob DeMarco is the Founder and Editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Alzheimer's Reading Room.