You might have heard the term "dementia friendly communities" lately. But what specifically do dementia friendly communities offer persons living with dementia? We define dementia friendly communities, their principles, and why they are beneficial to all community members.
Defining Dementia Friendly Communities
A dementia friendly is "a place or culture in which people with dementia and their carers are empowered, supported and included in society, understand their rights and recognize their full potential”(Alzheimer's Disease International, 2016, p. 10).
Dementia friendly communities:
- encourage community members living with dementia to make decisions
- support persons with dementia to take control of their lives
- maintain involvement with their community
Why are they Beneficial?
Social networks are essential for persons living with dementia to live well (Innovations in Dementia, 2011). Dementia friendly communities include social opportunities that are inclusive for persons with dementia. Dementia friendly communities reduce stigma and discrimination as they showcase that persons living with dementia can still engage in social and leisure activities. Dementia friendly communities encourage access to community activities that meet the needs of both persons living with dementia and their care partners. So, if we create dementia friendly communities, we are making more accessible, inclusive environments that might benefit other members of the community.
Canada has responded to the worldwide calls for dementia friendly communities by implementing Dementia Friends Canada in 2015 (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2017). Dementia Friends Canada creates awareness, reduces stigma, and encourages inclusivity for persons with dementia in their communities (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2017).
How can you Implement Dementia Friendly Values in your Community?
- If you already attend a program space, ask the facilitator to consider modifying and adapting the program for persons with dementia, such as slowing the pace, offering activities that can be modified, and ensuring an accessible space. This can be useful for other populations than just individuals living with dementia.
- Speak using inclusive language. Avoid terms such as "sufferers, victims, and patients".
- Speak to persons living with dementia, they are still people, regardless of a dementia diagnosis.
- If there are limited programs for persons with dementia, advocate within your community to start up more programs or create your own.
- Provide opportunities for persons with dementia to make their own decisions about their community and what activities they want to engage in.
- Continue to challenge the stigma that exists in your community around dementia. Correct people if they do use discriminatory language and educate community members around you.
There is still work that must be done to truly become dementia friendly, but with the development of more local programs in the region, we are taking steps to becoming a dementia friendly community. What does your community do support persons living with dementia? Share with us in the comments below!
Alzheimer's Disease International. (2016). Dementia friendly communities: Key Principles. Retrieved from https://www.alz.co.uk/adi/pdf/dfc-principles.pdf
Alzheimer’s Disease International. (2017). Dementia friendly communities: Global developments (2nd Edition). Retrieved from https://www.alz.co.uk/adi/pdf/dfc-developments.pdf
Innovations in Dementia. (2011). Dementia capable communities: The views of people with dementia and their supporters. Exeter: Innovations in Dementia.