Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell invites community members to a discussion about how to improve the lives of people with dementia as part of the Dementia Friendly America initiative. The forum will be Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway.
Inspired by his own family’s experience with dementia, in 2014 Mitchell announced an effort to make Tempe the first “Dementia Friendly City” in Arizona. This summer, Tempe was announced at the White House Conference on Aging as one of a few communities testing a new roadmap provided by Dementia Friendly America.
“In Tempe, it’s estimated that 1,500 people over age 65 have dementia in varying degrees,” Mitchell said. “After my mother’s diagnosis, my eyes were opened to how many others in our community feel the impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is a growing problem, but by working together I know the Tempe community can improve the way we meet the needs of families living with dementia.”
The number of people with dementia is increasing at a rapid rate — one in nine people age 65 years and older have dementia and about one-third of people age 85 years and older have the disease. Communities must act now to prepare for the increasing numbers of people who will develop dementia as their populations age.
Partnering with Banner Health, the Dementia Friendly Tempe Kickoff Summit will explore how Tempe can become a dementia friendly community and what can be done to improve opportunities and outcomes for people with dementia and their caregivers. Mayor Mitchell’s father, former Congressman Harry Mitchell, will give personal testimony of the disease’s impact on his family.
Following the Kickoff Summit, community leaders will assess Tempe’s strengths and needs when it comes to supporting families with dementia and develop an action plan to become more “dementia friendly.”
Every part of the community plays a role and can work together to take steps to create a dementia friendly culture:
- Businesses, such as banks and financial and legal services, can support customers with dementia and employers support employees who are caregivers
- Health care systems can promote early diagnosis and options for ongoing care and support
- Communities of faith can welcome and engage those who have the disease
- Local governments plan and implement housing, transportation, public spaces, and emergency response that enable people with dementia to thrive in the community
- Neighbors and community members can give understanding and support by training to become a “Dementia Friend”
- Residential care and community-based supports can offer a range of services to maximize independence and support ongoing community engagement with a variety of options adapted to cognitive decline.
To learn more about dementia and Dementia Friendly America, go to www.dfamerica.org.
About Dementia Friendly America
The Dementia Friendly America initiative is a multi-sector, national collaborative of more than 35 leading organizations that are catalyzing a movement and a set of best practices to foster dementia friendly communities across the United States.
About Dementia Friendly Communities
A dementia friendly community 1) raises awareness of and develops respect and inclusion for people with dementia, 2) has services and resources embedded in all areas of the community to ensure meaningful access to community and promote quality of life, 3) supports and educates people with dementia, their care partners and families from diagnosis through disease progression and 4) promotes meaningful engagement in community life.