Let's be honest. 2021 felt like we had our foot on the gas AND brake at the same time. Make plans, cancel plans, make plans, reschedule plans. Make PLANS? Uh, let's wait and see. Sound familiar?
While COVID was flying at record speed worldwide, community efforts to educate and support persons living with dementia and their caregivers took a back seat to public health and safety, rightfully so.
The pandemic disrupted many community initiatives, halting some completely. The World Dementia Council, in its recent report on Impacts of dementia friendly initiatives, cited that in the US, deaths attributed to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia rose to more than 20% above normal over the summer. Increased isolation and stress during lockdown, lapses in nursing home care and missed Covid-19 diagnoses are all likely contributing factors to the unusually high dementia death toll.
Study after study has confirmed the devasting rise in isolation among older adults during the pandemic. Moreover, those living with dementia and their care partners exacerbated the effects.
Stakeholders - It's Time to Get Back to Work!
A study conducted by Alzheimer's Australia identified what people living with dementia identified as a priority in creating dementia-friendly communities:
- Increasing community awareness and understanding about dementia
- Improving access to social activities and opportunities for engagement, including employment and volunteering
- Access to appropriate health and care services to support them to continue to live at home for as long as possible
- Access to affordable and convenient transportation options
- Improved physical environments, including appropriate signage, lighting, and colors.
I am very proud to be on the Board of Dementia Friendly Fort Worth (TX). When Covid hit, it was all hands on deck. Our intuitive leaders couldn't halt all the hard work and momentum they had started, so they put their creative minds to work. Virtual chapel services, cooking classes, exercise, art, music, and more were (and still are) daily offerings. Their audience grew from our local North Texas region to include people from other around the US and even a few from other countries. By many stakeholders coming together, we collectively made a positive difference in the lives of persons living with dementia, their care partners, and their families. Our mission continued despite the challenges of the lockdown and social distancing.
Stakeholders who work together as a community and for the community speak volumes for the power of collaboration.
Here are 5 Reasons Why Communities need YOU to take action:
- There is pent-up demand for dementia awareness and education due to the pandemic, but not enough aging service providers who can deliver impactful, effective education and training. We all need each other to collectively meet the growing needs of our aging population and their families.
- By partnering with a community-wide dementia-friendly initiative, you are leading in a critically important and meaningful effort to make a difference in the lives of older adults. Your employees, clients, and those you serve will take notice.
- You'll learn many new ways to reach others - what better way to learn than by sharing.
- Caring for your community's betterment is not just the right thing to do - it's what we must all do. Especially for those of us in the caring space of aging services. None of us can operate in a silo.
- It will be an opportunity to look outside the box - experience new ways of providing education, connecting with families and growing your community tribe of change-makers.
AGE-u-cate® Training Institute is on a mission to ignite change. Want to join us?
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