What is meant by a “dementia-friendly community”?

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, a dementia-friendly community is one in which people with dementia are empowered to have aspirations and feel confident, knowing they can contribute and participate in activities that are meaningful to them.

Most people with Alzheimer’s or dementia become isolated at home, feeling as if they are a burden to caregivers and to the community, and they become less independent, which threatens their quality of life.

At this year’s White House Conference on Aging, Frank Fernandez, CEO of Blue Plus of Minnesota, announced a plan committed to supporting the development of dementia-friendly communities and working toward becoming a dementia-friendly business and employer. This groundbreaking national effort, according to Fernandez, aims to educate Americans about dementia, equip business owners and first responders to recognize and assist those with memory loss, and empower people with Alzheimer’s and dementia to engage independently and safely in community life for as long as possible.

Led by the Dementia Friendly America initiative, goals for these communities include:

Raising awareness about dementia and transforming attitudes

Having supportive options that foster quality of life

Supporting caregivers and families touched by the disease

Promoting meaningful participation in community life and reaching those who are underserved

When a community becomes dementia friendly, it has the capacity to remove the stigma of the disease, to educate the public and enable those affected to engage independently and safely in the community life for as long as possible.

Already embarking on creating dementia friendly communities in the U.S. are Tempe, Arizona; Santa Clara County, California; Denver; Prince George’s County, Maryland; Knoxville, Tennessee; and West Virginia. DFA hopes to pilot 15 communities across America by 2016.