Dementia Friendly Communities


Learn how to support people living with dementia by building Dementia Friendly Communities.


Ashley Hortis
Public Education Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay

What is a Dementia Friendly Community?

More people are diagnosed with dementia every year and choose to live at home in their community throughout their dementia journey. How can we better support people with dementia to live well? How can people living with dementia be leaders in building Dementia Friendly Communities™?

People with dementia and their care partners have the right to live well in the community and together we can create a Dementia Friendly Ontario.

Dementia Friendly Communities is gaining momentum across the globe and thousands of Ontarians are joining the Alzheimer Society in showing their support for people with dementia and their care partners!

A Dementia Friendly Community is a place where people living with dementia are understood, respected and supported; an environment where people living with dementia will be confident that they can contribute to community life. In a Dementia Friendly Community, people will be aware of and understand dementia, and people living with dementia will be included and have choice and control over their day-to-day lives and level of engagement.

Help make your community dementia friendly

Dementia Friendly Communities™ training will help you better understand the everyday experiences of people with dementia. Check out what training participants are saying:

“I was amazed with how much I was able to learn from our training session and I believe that it has benefited my performance in the workplace and also helped with my awareness overall…”

“We do have a patron who will often purchase more than one ticket to a concert, but they have now been flagged so our representatives will look to see if they already have a ticket before selling them a new one. It’s not a difficult thing for us, and it will help to prevent further confusion. This is the direction I’d like to see us head toward, one where we are able to make ticket-purchases easy for everyone, including those living with dementia.”

How to get started

Interested in helping us to create Dementia Friendly Communities across Ontario? Check out how you can get involved:

As an individual you can:

  1. Access training through your local Society
  2. If you're a person with dementia, you can join an Advisory Group
  3. Sign up to volunteer with the Alzheimer Society
  4. Become a Dementia Friend!

As a business or organization you can:

  1. Connect with the Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay
  2. The Society will work with you to determine your training needs
  3. Society staff and volunteers provide a customized in person training
  4. The Society will work with you to establish an ongoing partnership and support network
  5. Receive recognition in our online directory of current supporters- your community will know you are helping to build a dementia friendly Ontario!
  6. Receive a Dementia Friendly decal to place in your venue window to advertise your business as a Dementia Friendly Business.

Benefits of becoming a Dementia Friendly Community™ supporter

  • Cater to a large and growing part of the population
  • Be accessible for people with all types of abilities, a broader customer base means even greater opportunity
  • Demonstrate your commitment to social responsibility, enhancing your reputation of goodwill within our community


Communication tips

The more dementia progresses, the more difficult conversation becomes. While feeling disheartened is normal, don’t give up! Here are helpful tips that might improve the relationship:

  • Introduce yourself. It may feel awkward but you can no longer assume that your Dad remembers who you are. (i.e. "Hi Dad. It's your daughter Sarah.)"
  • Smile.
  • Be calm and gentle. You set the mood.
  • Use humour.
  • Use visual cues for directions (e.g. pointing in the desired location or patting the appropriate chair).
  • Go at her pace. People with dementia need more time to respond.
  • Give instructions one at a time.
  • Use pampering (hand massage, manicure, comb her hair).
  • Remember he responds to you and your body language.
  • Be flexible and respond to his mood changes.
  • If he repeats the same question, answer like the first time.
  • Wait for a response.
  • Be accepting of inappropriate answers and nonsense words.
  • Be aware of your body language. Use it to communicate relaxation and reassurance.
  • Try not to argue.
  • Do not ask your loved one to reason or problem-solve.
  • Do not ask “don’t you remember?” This can cause agitation.
  • Do not correct his ideas or scold him.
  • If your husband experiences a hallucination or delusion, it is best not to re-orientate them, unless it causes harm. For example, your husband tells you that his mother is coming to visit tomorrow. Don’t explain she has long passed; instead distract with a new topic of conversation.

Tips on making your environment safe

Every person with dementia will have different requirements for keeping a safe environment. Keep in mind some of the changes that occur with dementia:

  • Decreased balance and reaction time
  • Visual-perceptual problems
  • Difficulty walking
  • Memory impairment
  • Decrease in judgment abilities
  • Less insight into environment and situations

To provide a safe home environment

  • Focus on prevention: Take care to look around and see potential hazards such as carpets that may cause a fall, poisons that are easily accessible, a gas-fire stove top, small objects that could choke and doors that could lock accidentally and trap someone inside.
  • Be patient and slow down: try not to rush someone with dementia.
  • Simplify routines: personal care can become more challenging for someone with dementia, so avoid accidents by breaking down complicated procedures into simpler, step-by-step processes.
  • Have an emergency plan: Be ready in case of emergency by keeping a working fire extinguisher nearby, a fully stocked first-aid kit on-hand and a list of emergency numbers by the phone.