"A dementia-friendly community is a place where people living with dementia are supported to live a high quality life with meaning, purpose, and value. This also means being given the opportunity and support to stay at work or volunteer. "
— Kylie Watkins, Alzheimer’s Australia

Online Resources for Dementia-Friendly Community Development

What do people living with dementia and their care partners want from the community where they live? According to a study by the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s very similar to what most of us want from our communities—inclusion in the everyday life of the community, safe and affordable transportation options, access to health care and in-home supports, opportunities for socialization and recreation, and the ability to contribute to their community through paid or volunteer work. In addition, people want an accessible environment with appropriate signage, lighting and colors.

The United States—through the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association — is a world leader in the development of dementia-friendly communities. To learn more about the development and implementation of dementia-friendly communities in the US, listen to the TSLCA webinar.

Dementia-friendly community infographic

Watch Dementia-Friendly Community in Minnesota get an idea of what a dementia friendly community looks like.

The Alzheimer’s Association created this short video to explain the 4-step process of creating a dementia-friendly community.

Minnesota’s pioneering Act on Alzheimer’s Initiative is an “all sectors” approach because every part of the community has a unique role in contributing to dementia friendliness. The focus of the work has been to educate the public, government officials, and businesses about effective strategies to make their community a friendly and inclusive place for people living with dementia and their care partners.

A number of useful toolkits and guides have been developed:

Building Dementia-Friendly Communities Toolkit: The toolkit is a user-friendly resource guide for implementing and sustaining dementia-friendly community efforts. The Guide is divided into four phases to guide the planning efforts of communities:

  1. Convene— Convene key community leaders and members to understand dementia and its implications for your community.  Then, form an Action Team.

  2. Assess — Assess current community strengths and gaps concerning dementia using questionnaires in the toolkit.

  3. Analyze— Analyze the community assessment findings and determine action priorities for your community.

  4. Act Together — Create a community action plan and take action community-wide to become dementia friendly.

Man and grandson playing chess

Specific Strategies for Community Members

Business – For businesses, it’s imperative that the “costs of doing business” include awareness of how dementia affects the workplace. This guide helps businesses to structure work for care partners and for employees in the early stages of dementia. It also offers hints and tips to make it easier for people with dementia to do everyday business.

Faith Communities – People who have dementia, particularly those raised in faith-based households, can be uplifted by worship services and clergy visits. Their family members also have spiritual needs. This guide offers advice to help faith and spiritual communities offer supportive and welcoming environments for people touched by dementia.

Health Care – Health care professionals play a key care and support role for people with dementia and their care partners. They can promote timely detection and diagnosis, provide ongoing medical care, educate about dementia, and connect people with community resources that promote quality of life. This guide shares best practices about how health care settings can train a dementia champion and implement system-wide practices for dementia.

Hospitals – Older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have three times more hospitalizations, four times more hospital stay days, and nearly three times more emergency department visits than other older adults. This Guide offers practical steps to improve care in the hospital setting.

Legal Services – This guide shows how legal professionals can work with people in the early stages of dementia to ensure that their wishes are honored when they can no longer participate in legal decision-making. It also points out the vital link that legal services professionals can be to local services for people with dementia and their care partners.

Libraries – This guide shows how libraries can fulfill their role to provide access to resources, services, and programs for people living with dementia and their families.

All dementia-friendly communities are also age-friendly but not all age-friendly communities are dementia-friendly. To learn more about how the two line up, read the AARP report Better Together: A Comparative Analysis of Age-Friendly and Dementia Friendly Communities.

If you are interested in developing a dementia-friendly community, your first-go-to resource is your state Alzheimer’s Association.

Vermont
New Hampshire
Maine

A Few Other Resources that May Help Your Community Become Dementia-Friendly

Alzheimer’s Aware – Published by the University of Illinois, a complete guide to implementing a law enforcement training program in your community.

Online Training for In-Home Care Partners: This educational series is designed to aid caregivers who are helping a loved one suffering from dementia. Follow Harold and Margaret as they face common issues surrounding dementia in-home care, including home safety, legal matters, dealing with problem behaviors and learning relaxation techniques. Watch the full trailer for this series. The twenty modules that make up the series have information broken up into specific topics.

Online training for community members who may interact with a person who has dementia. Have you ever felt uncomfortable when you meet someone with dementia in the grocery store? Wondered how to respond if you met a person a person with dementia who asked for your help finding their way home? If so, this course can help.

Would you like to start a dementia-friendly initiative in your state? If so, reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association to see how your community can support the work they are doing to raise awareness of the need. You may also enjoy reading a case study of how Wisconsin’s dementia friendly initiative started and learn the legislative and advocacy history behind Wisconsin’s commitment to a dementia care redesign.