Making communities ‘dementia-friendly,’ encouraging relationships, enhances quality of life for everyone: Alzheimer Society

LTC homes can – and do – play part in movement to bridge gap between communities and people with dementia

Encouraging community members to come into long-term care homes and engaging local businesses and government to increase accessibility and make communities more “dementia-friendly” are some of the things that can be done to decrease dementia’s stigma and enhance quality of life for people, says Mary Schulz.

Schulz, the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s education director, notes that there is already a movement in Canada and around the world to make communities more accessible for people living with cognitive impairment.

Citizens are engaging business owners and local governments to make it easier for people who are older and may have cognitive impairment to continue to be involved in their communities, and this benefits everyone, Schulz says.

“Mothers with strollers, people with walkers, everybody benefits from a more accessible community,” she tells The OMNIway.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada’s 2018 awareness campaign is working to end the stigma surrounding dementia and encourage Canadians to rethink their perceptions of the condition.

The campaign is also working to spread an understanding of the fact that people with cognitive impairment have crucial roles to play in society.

This year’s campaign, called “I live with dementia. Let me help you understand,” is important because Canadians with dementia often say the hardest part of living with their condition is the way others treat them, Schulz says.

Aside from making communities more accessible, bridging generational gaps and hosting community events – things OMNI Health Care long-term care homes have long been doing – can also help reduce the stigma surrounding dementia, Schulz says.

“Is the community coming (into long-term care homes)? Are people living in the home going out? Is there that intimacy and interaction where we teach children that long-term care homes are not places with high fences around them, that the people who live there are worth getting to know?” Schulz says.

“These things are important.”

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