Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

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PUBLIC PAGE
Tue, Oct 23, 2018 8:44am

Dementia-Friendly Communities

By Dr. Anne Shandera-Ochsner, HABIT MN Director, @dranneshanderaochsner

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In recent years, the Dementia Friendly America organization has taken off, in which many US states have started initiatives to promote “dementia friendly” communities. The idea is that, rather than institutionalize people with dementia, a better quality of life might be possible if people are able to remain a part of the community, as independent as possible. To keep people in the community, it takes the collaborative effort of all aspects of the town or city, from the health care systems to banks, restaurants, and law enforcement. For example, one part of the initiative is to encourage dementia friendly businesses in the community, where employees are trained to recognize when a person has dementia, communicate with that person, and know how to find resources for the person with dementia if needed. You can find a list of state-by-state resources here http://www.dfamerica.org/dfa-communities/

While the Dementia Friendly America programs are a good start, a few European cities have been able to undertake a much bolder, all-encompassing approach. Instead of trying to find ways to accommodate persons with dementia into an existing community, an entire village is created – designed from the ground up with memory problems in mind.

Let’s take a closer look at an experimental village in southwest France. Set to open in 2019, this 12-acre facility is a scaled-down town, complete with things like a restaurant and grocery store as well as a garden and farm where residents can stay active with interesting, productive tasks. The facility will be secure as a whole, but will allow the kind of freedom of movement between home and the community that people are used to having. The village will incorporate research measures into the daily life to gauge the effectiveness of this living situation compared to a traditional nursing home. Check out these stories for more details:

Personally, I get really excited reading about these rather radical approaches to making not only a safe place to live, which is the main goal of a skilled nursing facility (aka nursing home), but also a rich, vibrant, fulfilling place to live, which is often lacking at these facilities. I will be anxious to see the results of this and other similar experimental memory villages. If successful, hopefully we will see these in the United States in the not so distant future, as well!

Chime in below, and let us know what you think of this concept.

This is very interesting. I had read about the Dutch community. Also, when my husband and I vacationed near Asheville, NC this fall, we saw a brochure for Western NC Dementia Friendly Communities (http://dementiafriendlywnc.org/). Both concepts are interesting and both are steps in the right direction – but they strike me as very different. The European "villages" seem to be an alternative to nursing homes or memory care facilities. The dementia-friendly communities seem to be actually sensitizing community members to memory issues and incorporating people with dementia and their partners into the fabric of the community. I LOVE that idea. But please tell me if I'm misunderstanding. Thanks for the great article.

I would love to see communities like that all over the US. My mother has dementia and it is just the two of us…I’m sensing a feeling of isolation. I am grateful for community and support groups as we go through this journey.

@debbraw

This is very interesting. I had read about the Dutch community. Also, when my husband and I vacationed near Asheville, NC this fall, we saw a brochure for Western NC Dementia Friendly Communities (http://dementiafriendlywnc.org/). Both concepts are interesting and both are steps in the right direction – but they strike me as very different. The European "villages" seem to be an alternative to nursing homes or memory care facilities. The dementia-friendly communities seem to be actually sensitizing community members to memory issues and incorporating people with dementia and their partners into the fabric of the community. I LOVE that idea. But please tell me if I'm misunderstanding. Thanks for the great article.

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You're correct in that these are different approaches to the central issue of how we can improve quality of life while also keeping folks safe when dementia enters the picture. Exciting stuff!

@providence1960

I would love to see communities like that all over the US. My mother has dementia and it is just the two of us…I’m sensing a feeling of isolation. I am grateful for community and support groups as we go through this journey.

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Hi @providence1960 – You said it so well! I hope these communities thrive and become more commonplace in our country. As you note, the sense of isolation can be daunting. That's one reason I'm glad for the Connect community here online. I'm wondering if you belong to any of the Groups? The Caregiver's Group has great people who truly support each other. You may want to check out this thread: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/caregiving-for-dementia-sufferers/
Hope to see you over there!

@debbraw

Hi @providence1960 – You said it so well! I hope these communities thrive and become more commonplace in our country. As you note, the sense of isolation can be daunting. That's one reason I'm glad for the Connect community here online. I'm wondering if you belong to any of the Groups? The Caregiver's Group has great people who truly support each other. You may want to check out this thread: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/caregiving-for-dementia-sufferers/
Hope to see you over there!

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Thank you…I will join. I’m new to this.

@providence1960

Thank you…I will join. I’m new to this.

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@providence1960 – First, I want to welcome you to this great safe and friendly online community. And second, I just want to let you know that if you have any questions or challenges as you get started, don't hesitate to private message me. As you start to browse around the groups, I think you'll be amazed at how much support is out there. I know I was. Again, shout out if you need any help.

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