Creating healthy communities where people living with dementia can live, age and thrive
An estimated 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease. The number and proportion of Americans with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is expected to continue to grow in coming years because the risk of dementia increases with advancing age. The population of Americans age 65 and older is projected to grow from 58 million in 2021 to 88 million by 2050 (Alzheimer’s Association, Facts and Figures 2023). Additionally, 80% of people with dementia live at home or with family as compared to the long-term care sector.
In response to the 2015 White House Conference on Aging and Minnesota’s statewide successful initiative, ACT on Alzheimer’s, USAging launched Dementia Friendly America (DFA) with three pilot communities; there are now over 400 dementia friendly communities in 42 states.
DFA is a national network of communities, organizations and individuals seeking to ensure that communities across the U.S. are equipped to support people living with dementia and their care partners. Dementia friendly communities enable people living with dementia to remain in their community and thrive in day to day living.
This community effort to create a dementia friendly culture is supported by a diverse group of partners, such as businesses and employers, law enforcement and first responders, health care systems, faith communities, local government, restaurants and grocery stores.
The DFA Community Toolkit guides the dementia friendly community action team through a process and is adaptable so that communities can customize to meet their unique needs and goals. DFA also has sector guides for communities who choose a sector-based approach to dementia friendliness. Sector guides provide information, resources, and actions that specific sectors can take.
USAging also serves as the administrator of Dementia Friends USA, the US lead in a global movement that is changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia.
A Dementia Friend is someone who, through viewing a series of online videos or attending a live interactive session, learns about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. A Dementia Friend session often serves as a catalyst for dementia friendly community efforts. There are more than 137,000 in the US and that number is growing!
If you think your community would like to become dementia friendly, please review the Dementia Friendly Community Readiness and Recognition Criteria