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What Makes a Community 'Dementia-Friendly?'

With a high number of elderly residents, the London suburb of Purley has taken steps to become "dementia-friendly." There's no single definition of what that means, but community awareness and education are a focus.
February 8, 2017, 10am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Nejc Vesel

Taking inspiration from age-friendly cities in Japan, communities in the UK are seeking to be more "dementia-friendly." Peter Watts writes, "The Alzheimer’s Society has designated 220 communities in England and Wales as dementia-friendly, aiming to reduce stigma around the disorder and improve safety and quality of life for those who experience it. The charity is campaigning for London to be the world’s first 'dementia-friendly capital city' by 2020."

Unlike "age-friendly," which often takes a higher policy view, "Dementia friendly is a much more specific lens, it's grassroots and very localised, usually focused around a high street. It's also more focused on training – getting people to understand needs.”

In places like Purley, local activists and service providers need to take the lead. "It's then down to community groups to contact a body like the Dementia Action Alliance, an umbrella organisation consisting of 150 groups working in the field, who can offer advice. This is an intensely localised concept, created so each community is able to adapt to specific needs."

"In the London borough of Lewisham, for instance, there has been a drive to persuade museums and arts venues to offer dementia-friendly activities, as well as working with shops, supermarkets and banks to provide slow lanes and special assistance."

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Published on Thursday, February 2, 2017 in The Guardian
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