A dementia friendly community is where people with dementia and their care partners are supported to live well while feeling welcomed, included, and understood in the activities they are participating in outside their homes.
Dementia changes a person’s abilities, behaviors, and communication which can impact their ability to perform everyday tasks. Symptoms of dementia can include difficulties with attention, problem-solving, and language; changes in mood and behaviour; and issues with vision, balance, and movement. These symptoms change a person’s experience with their environments and social interactions.
A dementia friendly community can be a city, a neighborhood, social groups, faith-based groups, offices, grocery stores, libraries, or fitness centers.
60 percent of people living with dementia live at home, in their communities, and want to continue participating in their community after a diagnosis.
Many people living with dementia and their care partners report barriers, such as stigma, to feeling included in their communities once symptoms arise or a diagnosis is given. The stigma and misunderstanding of dementia can cause people to withdraw from community interaction due to discomfort with social situations. Withdrawing from a community can result in a diminished quality of life and loss of personal connections.
Ways you can fight against stigma:
- Learn the facts about dementia.
- Do not make assumptions about the person and their diagnosis.
- Use person-centered language.
- Be a friend, support is important for positive health outcomes.
- Listen to people who have experienced stigma.
- Test your attitude.
- Encourage early diagnosis.
- Support the care partner and family.
- Stay informed about dementia and care option
- Remember the person inside throughout the progression of dementia and support that person’s reality
A dementia friendly community allows people living with dementia and their care partners to feel supported and welcome to participate in activities in their community. These communities consider how people with dementia perceive their environments and are aware of the support they may need to feel safe in their community.
Dementia friendly communities consider both the impacts of built environments and the design of physical space, as well as customer service and meaningful engagement practices. Dementia friendly communities are about relationship building and changing inclusion practices of communities of all types and sizes.
Four Key Components of Being Dementia Friendly
Dementia friendly communities are safe and inclusive in both the physical and social environment. This includes having proper signage and safe environments that are easy to understand so people can feel supported in the community.
Dementia friendly communication includes ensuring people living with dementia have a voice and are heard, but also knowing how to interact with a person living with dementia. This also includes engaging with people living with dementia on their own terms.
Dementia friendly communities include opportunities for dementia education and awareness. Increased education about dementia will help us reduce the stigma and stereotypes that keep people living with dementia feeling isolated and misunderstood.
People living with dementia and their care partners should have a voice in the decisions and actions made in a community surrounding accessibility. This allows them to act as a “champion” in educational work, advocacy, story sharing, supporting others, and creating change by providing their lived experience perspectives.
Research shows that dementia cases are on the rise while there is limited availability of dementia support and understanding, especially in rural communities. To build a dementia-friendly Saskatchewan, we need to move away from fear and denial of the illness and move towards awareness and understanding.
Creating dementia friendly communities only requires individuals and organizations in the community to focus on including and welcoming people living with dementia and their care partners.
Flipping the Stigma
Learn how you can take action against stigma and discrimination associated with dementia.
Dementia Friendly Canada
For more information about dementia friendly communities and the tools available for your community, please contact:
Public Awareness Coordinator