Dementia-Friendly Communities

Building dementia friendly communities in Illinois holds significant importance to the families and persons living with dementia. It is estimated that 220,000 people in Illinois have dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and by 2025 the number will increase by 18% to 260,000 people.

Too often, people living with dementia and their caregivers feel alone, isolated and unable to participate or engage in activities they have always loved. Dementia friendly communities have committed to working with people with dementia and their support systems and engage multiple sectors of the community that commit to helping people with dementia live as independently as possible. The goals of a dementia Friendly community are to educate the community by increasing awareness and understanding of the disease, decreasing the stigma of the disease, fostering community involvement and improving the lives of those with dementia and those who care for them. One way a community can be Dementia Friendly is to host a Memory Café, a safe and welcoming social gathering for people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Each Memory Café is unique and can include an activity that is fun and stimulating for participants, an educational program or something else that is engaging for participants.Another way a community can be Dementia Friendly is to host Tales & Travels Memories programs. Each one-hour program takes participants on an imaginary trip to another country utilizing books, music, artifacts, folktales and interesting facts about each destination. The Agency on Aging Northeastern Illinois has been working on an initiative to help communities become more inclusive for people with dementia. Two communities in their region, North Chicago/Lake County and Kankakee County, have joined the Dementia Friendly America network of communities! The Agency on Aging Northeastern Illinois will be continuing their efforts in 2019 to engage more communities and businesses in becoming Dementia Friendly. They plan to host memory cafes and Tales and Travels Memories programs through local libraries. The Agency plans to train more businesses on how to interact with people with dementia through their Dementia Friendly Business Training. They have trained nearly 8,000 people to date through community presentations and business sector training’s.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Dementia Friendly communities or the other programs for people with dementia, contact Colette Jordan at the Agency on Aging Northeastern Illinois at (630) 293-5990 or cjordan@ageguide.org.