Creating a Dementia-Friendly Community

People living with dementia—and their families–can have a better quality of life when they remain connected to their community and participate in everyday activities. But it takes understanding and ongoing support to make this happen.

That’s why Bacoa is launching an initiative to make Barrington a dementia-friendly community. These communities—there are currently 18 throughout Illinois—have developed supportive services and programs that allow persons with dementia to continue to participate in community life. This support comes from all sectors of the community, whether it’s from businesses that make a special effort to accommodate persons with dementia, to employers who offer flexibility to caregivers, to health care providers who can help link with local resources.

Most importantly, though, it requires helping all community residents better understand dementia, to help reduce the stigma surrounding the disease, and encourage everyone to recognize and interact with community members living with it.

With the assistance from a grant from the Barrington Area Community Foundation, Bacoa has started the process of naming Barrington a dementia-friendly community through the organization Dementia Friendly America. Communities outline how they’ll approach the process and how they’ll work with various community sectors. DFA provides a toolkit that helps with engaging supporters, analyzing community needs, and developing an action plan.

Bacoa has begun discussions with community leaders to help determine what types of services and support are possible in the Barrington area. This will help us to develop training processes and materials as well as ways to promote the program. We’re also meeting with individuals and families of persons living with dementia to learn more about what they need to feel comfortable and engaged in the community in their day-to-day activities as well as their longer-term plans.

Other elements that we have in the works: The Reading 2Connect program, which uses a selection of books to encourage reading, discussion and activities among persons with dementia. We will distribute Medic Alert ID bracelets that identify the wearer as a person with dementia and will include caregiver contact information. We’re also planning a logo-design competition for high school students to encourage intergenerational participation in the program.

Once our plans are in place, we aim to launch the program community-wide in 2022. We’re relying on the support and enthusiasm of the all community members, so if you are interested in helping at any step along the way, please give us a call.