The Green County Caregiver Coalition is starting exciting efforts to create dementia-friendly communities in the county.
The concept of dementia-friendly communities began in Europe. It has now become a state-wide effort in Wisconsin. In Southwest Wisconsin, this initiative is all about supporting individuals living with dementia by increasing the community’s awareness and knowledge of dementia to decrease the stigma and isolation that many times can result.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.3 million individuals in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. This equates to Alzheimer’s affecting approximately 1 in 9 individuals over the age of 65 and 1 in 3 individuals over the age of 85. In Wisconsin, it is estimated that there are about 110,000 individuals 65 and older living with the disease. The majority of these individuals are living in their own residence. (Reference: http://www.alz.org/facts/overview.asp)
It is important to remember the people these numbers represent – the individuals living with the disease, their caregivers, and families. These individuals are our family members, friends, neighbors, and community members. We need to work together to help make our communities a place where individuals with dementia can live a high quality life. We want them to maintain their independence, but be there to support and guide them when it is needed.
The development of dementia-friendly communities involves all sectors of a society, including educating and creating awareness within businesses and organizations so that individuals impacted by dementia do not become isolated. In a dementia-friendly community, individuals with dementia and their caregivers can feel more comfortable continuing to go to the places that they are familiar with such as restaurants, banks, shops, and grocery stores. Individuals working within these environments participate in a training that aims to increase their awareness of dementia, and the need for patience, compassion, and a proper approach when interacting with people who are impacted. Businesses and organizations that participate in the dementia-friendly training can promote this by using the purple angel decal on their store entrances and websites.
The Green County Caregiver Coalition has formed a group of individuals in the area that all offer unique and valuable insights to help with planning and developing a dementia-friendly community. We want the dementia-friendly community initiative to spread to all facets of our communities including businesses, first responders, schools, faith-based organizations, and beyond.
If you are interested in joining the dementia-friendly community initiative or want to learn more about becoming dementia-friendly, contact the Aging & Disability Resource Center to get connected with Whitney Thompson, the Dementia Care Specialist by calling 608-426-4295.