Dementia Friendly communities are welcoming to people with dementia, support them to live well, and engage them meaningfully in everyday life.
Our vision is that these communities will recognize that a person with dementia may experience the world differently, and will be prepared to make a conscious effort to reduce stigma, social isolation and ensure the social-citizenship and participation of people with dementia.
A dementia friendly community focuses on stigma reduction so that people living with dementia will feel supported by their community to participate and contribute in meaningful ways. Dementia friendly communities promote locally based supports and address barriers experienced by those that have dementia, and the families, friends and care partners who support them.
Characteristics of a dementia friendly community
The term “community” can refer to geographical parameters, but also includes groups of people gathered around shared interests or features. This means that cities and towns can become dementia friendly, as can a book club, a business, a local coffee shop, a faith-based group, or a grocery store.
Dementia friendly communities are defined by both their social and physical characteristics and incorporate a number of dementia friendly considerations. These characteristics can help support people with dementia by reducing anxiety, stigma or frustration.
What does a dementia friendly social environment look like?
Community members who are dementia friendly recognize that:
- A person with dementia is more than their diagnosis.
- A person with dementia may experience the world differently.
- Dementia is about more than just memory loss, and can affect a person’s cognition, behaviour, emotions and physical capabilities.
- Stigma is often associated with dementia, but by learning more and fostering understanding, stigma can be reduced.
- Everyone has a role to play in recognizing people with dementia as a part of their community and supporting their independence, sense of value and opportunities for inclusion.
What about a dementia friendly physical environment?
- A physical environment that is welcoming to people with dementia includes:
- Clear and legible signage that is placed at eye level and located at key decision making points both inside and outside of public areas. Adequate and appropriate signage is an important feature that provides assistance with navigation, and should avoid reflective materials and stylized fonts or symbols.
- Flat, wide and unobstructed sidewalks and pathways.
- Seating located within public areas that is designed to be easily recognizable as seating. Dementia may cause an individual to experience difficulty with abstract thinking and/or object recognition, meaning that ambiguous designs can impede an items usefulness.
- Clearly marked accessible washrooms in public spaces.
- Landmarks, distinctive structures, open spaces and places of activity and rest.
Examples of actions your community can take
- Connect with the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan to learn more about how your community can create a Dementia Friendly Action Plan
- Individuals can become Dementia Friends to learn more about dementia, including practical tips and information to incorporate into their own interactions.
- Encourage local government (such as city or town council) to commit to becoming more dementia friendly by passing a resolution, and encourage both new and existing council members to become Dementia Friends.
- Include people with dementia and their care partners in community or organizational programming.
- Consider hosting a Dementia Friendly Communities presentation that can help community members to better understand dementia, and how to support people affected by it.