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Dementia Friendly Communities – A Critical Conversation 
By: Susan Oster, Public Education Coordinator

Here’s why we want to talk about this.

More and more people are diagnosed with dementia every year and many choose to live at home, in their communities throughout their dementia journey. Too often, these individuals feel that they need to withdraw from the community because those around them don’t understand their condition and don’t know how to interact with them or support them. This isolation is often felt by their care partners too.

What is a Dementia Friendly Community?

According to Alzheimer Disease International (ADI), the international federation of over 80 Alzheimer associations supporting people with dementia and their families, a dementia friendly community can be defined as: a place or culture in which people with dementia and their carers are empowered, supported and included in society, understand their rights and recognise their full potential.

Or described more eloquently by a client living with dementia “Dementia Friendly Communities is informed kindness.” 

What is involved in creating a Dementia Friendly Community (DFC)?

Alzheimer Disease International (ADI) states two core objectives of DFC:

  1. Reducing stigma and increasing understanding of dementia (these two points are intricately tied), and
  2. Empowering people with dementia

Until there is more understanding of dementia in the broader community, stigma around the disease will remain and individuals impacted by dementia will feel less comfortable to speak about their experiences and educate others about how to best support their needs. Ask yourself – what do I currently know about dementia? What is my perception/attitude of someone who is impacted by dementia? Would I feel comfortable interacting with someone who is living with dementia? Would I know how to offer support to a care partner?

Here’s the challenge …

How can we, as friends, neighbours, businesses and services, faith groups, and local governments better support people with dementia to live well? How can people living with dementia be encouraged and supported to be leaders in building Dementia Friendly Communities?

 So – what’s next? How can I help my community become more dementia friendly?

 For Individuals 

  1. Access training and resources through the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex.
  2. If you’re a person with dementia, explore the Ontario Dementia Advisory Group (www.odag.ca) or speak to the Alzheimer Society about how to become more involved.
  3. Volunteer with the Alzheimer Society.
  4. Become a “Dementia Friend” at www.dementiafriends.ca.

For municipal governments, service agencies, organizations and businesses

  1. Connect with the Alzheimer Society to inquire about Dementia Friendly training and resources
    1. The Society will work with you to determine your training needs
    2. Society staff and volunteers provide customized training and/or resources
  2. Spread the word on the benefits of becoming dementia-friendly (because dementia-friendly principles help us to be inclusive of everyone living in our communities!)

People with dementia and their care partners have the right to live well in the community. Together, we can build a Dementia Friendly London and Middlesex!

 For more information, visit www.alzheimerlondon.ca for information on local programs, services and resources. Visit www.alzheimer.ca/en/on/We-can-help/Dementia-Friendly-Communities-Ontario for more information about Dementia Friendly Communities in Ontario. To inquire about training for your business, organization, etc., contact Susan Oster, Public Education Coordinator at soster@alzheimerlondon.ca or 519-680-2404 ext. 233

 

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