Creating Dementia-Friendly Environments One Community At A Time
What Is A Dementia-Friendly Community?
The Social Environment
There is a need to tackle the stigma and social isolation associated with dementia through strategies to engage and include people with dementia in community activities.
“Older adults deserve to live in communities that are respectful, inclusive, and free of prejudice or discrimination. They deserve to be celebrated for their accomplishments and contributions. The aging of our population impacts every community and culture, and people of all ages should feel confident that they and their families can lead vibrant, purposeful lives as they grow old.” -Tim Walz, Minnesota Governor (12-13-2019)
The availability of accessible community activities that are appropriate to the needs of people living with dementia, along with suitable transportation options, are important for a community to become dementia-friendly. The engagement of people living with dementia in existing community activities, rather than only specialized activities, is also important. Providing people with dementia the opportunity to remain in their homes and within their communities should be a guiding principle.
These are the opportunities that should be expected:
- Paid or unpaid activities
- Social opportunities through sporting activities (such as golf and bowling)
- Meeting with friends
- Participation in community activities (such as choirs and walking clubs)
- Access to retail, banking, and other services
The Physical Environment
A physical environment that supports the needs of people living with dementia is critical.
It needs to be accessible and easy to navigate. Pathways, signage, and lighting all need special consideration.
For people living with dementia to remain engaged within their communities, businesses and organizations need to demonstrate awareness, respect, and responsiveness.
Encouraging organizations to establish dementia-friendly approaches and implement strategies that help people with dementia will contribute to a dementia-friendly society.
Access To Appropriate Healthcare
A timely diagnosis of dementia and early treatment is a critical component of a dementia-friendly community.
Dementia-friendly services that respond to the unique needs of people with dementia should be delivered at the right place and the right time.
The establishment of dementia-friendly communities as a social action initiative needs cross-sectoral support and collective action to effect change.
It is no one organization’s responsibility to effect change of this scale, therefore, the collective commitment to this cause and working in collaboration and partnership is critical.
The strengths and focus of organizations within a community need to be identified and built into the plan for establishing a dementia-friendly society.
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