With a rapidly growing senior population and more early diagnoses, the number of older people living with dementia is expected to dramatically increase over the next 20 years, placing a huge burden on caregivers and health care systems worldwide.
An estimated 5.1 million people over the age of 65 in the United States alone are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and that number could reach 7.1 million within just 10 years. To help those with dementia experience their best possible lives, communities and active care partners are being called upon to educate themselves, raise awareness and remove the fear and stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.
To help communities support caregivers and those living with dementia, the White House Conference on Aging is encouraging cities, counties and states to work towards making themselves “dementia friendly”. A similar initiative was launched in 2013 in Japan to help create supportive and inclusive projects, housing and care for people with dementia within their community.
By creating training programs to help business owners, clergy, restaurant servers, police officers and health care workers to recognize and understand how to best help those with memory loss or other cognitive problems, communities can support a better quality of life for people with dementia and those who care for them.
Lifting the stigma surrounding dementia with education while providing tools to support dementia friendly communities is the goal of the Dementia Friendly Initiative.
Dementia Friendly Community Tips
- Businesses can de-clutter aisles and turn down music or loudspeakers
- Restaurant servers can simplify menus by offering two simple choices
- Places of worship can create a quiet space if congregants with dementia become overwhelmed
- Officers often encounter people with dementia who are confused and can help return them safely home
- Employing patience and warmth, listening closely, making eye contact and gently offering to help can put someone with dementia more at ease.
- If someone appears lost or distressed, gently ask if they have a contact number or address tucked in their pocket.
To learn more about how to organize a dementia friendly initiative in your community and for more tools and resources, visit www.dfamerica.org.
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