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 by becoming involved in dementia friendly efforts, communities of all types and sizes will better understand that a person with dementia may experience the world differently and will be able to use this knowledge to increase support, inclusion, and accessibility in their social and physical environments.

A dementia friendly community focuses on stigma reduction so that people living with dementia feel supported to participate and contribute in meaningful ways. Dementia friendly communities promote locally based supports and address barriers experienced by individuals living with dementia and their care partners.

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 organizations, 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. The actions taken to incorporate dementia friendly considerations will be unique based on each community’s own characteristics, settings, and goals.

What can a dementia friendly social environment look like?

The social environment of a community can become more dementia friendly by learning about the changes in abilities, behaviour, and communication that dementia can cause and building understanding about how that can affect the experience of individuals and their care partners. Reducing stigma, challenging misconceptions, and using person-centred language are important features of a dementia friendly social environment.

In a dementia friendly social environment, community members recognize that:

  • A person with dementia is more than their diagnosis.
  • Dementia is about more than just memory loss, and can affect a person’s abilities, behaviour and communication.
  • 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 can a dementia friendly physical environment look like?

The physical environment of a community can become more dementia friendly by considering how individuals with dementia and their care partners access, navigate and interact within spaces, then incorporating adjustments to reduce barriers and improve support. Dementia friendly considerations can provide universal benefits but not all physical accessibility considerations adequately address the changes in abilities, behaviour and communication that dementia can cause.

A physical environment that is welcoming to people with dementia may include:

  • Consideration to the design and placement of signage.
  • Surfaces, furniture, and interior features that acknowledge a person with dementia may perceive visual information differently or rely more strongly on landmarks.
  • Options to reduce overwhelming noise and distractions when communicating, and suitable areas to rest, receive assistance or converse if needed.
  • Strategies for improving accessibility and including dementia friendly perspectives immediately and in the future.

Ways your community can become involved

Contact to:

  • Discuss your community’s dementia friendly goals and sector-specific information that can help you to create your action plan.
  • Request your copy of the toolkits, checklists, tip sheets and other online and print resources that can assist you in identifying potential changes or improvements.
  • Ask about presentation opportunities that may help your community to better understand dementia and how to support people affected by it.