In the latest episode of Conversations On Care, Opens Arms Solutions founder Julie Kollada invited Emily Mysel of Family Service of Glencoe to discuss how she helped to gather the resources needed to transform the village of Glencoe, Illinois into a community that is more understanding and supportive of seniors with dementia, and how you can do the same.
Conversations on Care is a Facebook talk show bringing together service providers, clients, and caregivers to help families better understand and cope with an aging parent with chronic care needs.
Julia Kollada explains that there are currently six million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease and even more people with related dementias. This number is set to more than double by 2050. Therefore, there’s definitely an increasing need for more dementia-friendly communities in the USA.
What is a dementia-friendly community?
Most people living with dementia can remain active in their community with appropriate support. However, unfortunately, many people are unaware of how to interact effectively with those living with dementia or how to dare to be helpful if they feel like something is not right. To address these challenges, more and more communities are being trained to be dementia-friendly to ease the challenges posed by the disease to affected individuals, government entities, businesses, and civic groups. These communities help people with dementia to receive better community support and to have greater opportunities to stay actively engaged and remain at home as long as possible.
Emily Mysel explains that the Dementia-friendly America movement started in 2015 and currently, there are 19 communities in Illinois that are dementia-friendly. In these communities, people living with the disease, their care partners and families are included and engaged in the planning process and are active members of the community. Her community in Glencoe became dementia-friendly in 2019, and in her opinion, education is the most important first step, in which even the authorities get involved.
Emily explains that officers in her local Deerfield are all Dementia Friends. After completing a quick course, anyone can become a certified Dementia Friend, ready to provide a helping hand for people living with the disease in day-to-day life. The officers are trained to pick up on behaviors, recognize situations, and ask the right questions every time they encounter a person living with dementia.
Why is it important to become a dementia-friendly community?
Julie Kollada highlights that in people living with dementia, there’s always a risk of elopement. This means when a person wanders off and leaves their safe place. People with dementia often get confused, leave their house in clothes that are not appropriate for the weather and often forget where they are, where they live, and where they’re going. This is where their entire community needs to be ready to step in because the more people are trained to recognize an unusual situation and be brave enough to intervene, the better chance there is that people who elope will be found quickly and can be returned to safety. The more people are trained in a community, the safer that community becomes for people with dementia.
Who can help make their community dementia-friendly?
Everyone. In the video, Emily explains that all communities are different and each of them needs to find their their leader, whether that’s the chief of police, the mayor, the village manager, or the fire chief, then identify their own issues, challenges, problems, areas of strengths, and areas of limitations and take it from there.
Julie Kollada and Emily Mysel touched on many other topics revolving around dementia care, even sharing their own experiences in the latest episode of Conversations on Care. You can watch the entire conversation below.
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If you think your loved one may need care, you can take our short assessment quiz to ensure they get to live their best life possible. If you have any questions about dementia care, please reach out to us today!