Why YOUR City Needs to become Dementia Friendly

I’m honored to be part of the exciting Dementia Friendly Fort Worth initiative.  Not only are we the first major city in Texas to undertake this effort, but one of the largest cities in the United States.  We are part of Dementia Friendly America (DFA), which is a multi-sector collaborative on a mission to foster “dementia friendly” communities across the nation.

DFA is the work of over 35 national, leading organizations, the Dementia Friendly America initiative is catalyzing a movement to more effectively support and serve those across America who are living with dementia and their family and friend care partners. The lead organizations represent all sectors of the community and are collectively leveraging their national reach to activate their local affiliates, members, and branches to convene, participate in and support dementia friendly community efforts at a local level.

Dementia Friendly Fort Worth is organized to educate people in all sectors of the community about dementia, to assist them in becoming dementia friendly and to support and care for those living with dementia and their care partners.

The program offers:

  • Education opportunities for all persons to increase awareness and understanding of dementia
  • Help in the development of better services for persons living with dementia and their care partners
  • Guidance to all sectors of the community to become dementia friendly in their day to day interactions with persons living with dementia
  • Encouragement and support practices and opportunities that enrich the lives of persons living with dementia and their care partners.

Why be a Dementia Friendly city?  There are more than 120 types of dementia, for which there is currently no cure.  More than 60% of these individuals live in your neighborhood and use the businesses and services in your community.   Currently, there are over 10 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.  This number is expected to grow drastically in the years ahead.  The massive group of baby boomers (10,000 a day turning 65) is living longer, and dementia occurrence increases with age.  A person who is 65 has a 1 in 10 chance of having dementia and that rises to a 1 in 3 chance for someone 85.  The fastest growing segment of our population are those 85 and over.

According to the Dementia Friendly Toolkit Overview, communities are encouraged to progress through four phases as they journey to become dementia friendly: Convene, Engage, Analyze, and Act.  In Fort Worth, we have created sector groups which are defining standards for various business groups to be certified as dementia friendly, using the toolkit from Dementia Friendly America.

In just 4 months, leaders from faith communities, long-term care, hospitals, businesses, Alzheimer’s Association, Area Agencies on Aging and others have come together to move forward with outlining initiatives and plans to reach out to the greater Fort Worth community.  It’s very exciting to see the stakeholders investing in this project, including the FW Mayor and city council.  Everyone sees the urgent need to address the needs of those living with dementia and their care partners.

Funding for dementia friendly projects comes from donations from individuals, companies, organization, and foundations which have a desire to make a difference in the lives of those living with dementia.  First United Methodist Fort Worth was the catalyst to provide important seed money for this project, and other are quickly joining them.  It’s definitely a model of grassroots efforts and the passion of hundreds of people from virtually every sector of the community.

For more information on how to become a dementia-friendly city http://dfaamerica.org.   

 Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  She is the creator of the internationally recognized Dementia Live® program, a transformational experience, and training to help care partners understand life with dementia.  Dementia Live is an educational outreach program of the Dementia Friendly initiatives in Fort Worth and Grayslake, Illinois.  

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