Becoming a Dementia-Friendly Community

Elaine Whitford News

What a dementia-friendly community looks like.

Communities across the nation are working toward dementia friendliness by raising awareness about dementia, supporting caregivers and families touched by the disease, and promoting meaningful patient participation in community life.

About the Need

  • Over five million Americans are living with dementia and we do not have a treatment that can prevent or cure the disease.
  • Nearly 60 percent of people with dementia live in their own communities.
  • Many of the people with dementia have some support by family members and friends. Last year, 15.5 million caregivers provided 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care, averaging 22 hours per week and valued at $217.7 billion annually.
  • One in seven people with dementia lives alone and need a lot of support from the community.

What is a Dementia-Friendly Community?

The Dementia Friendly America Initiative wants to implement community efforts that train workers in a wide array of sectors such as banking, retail, public service, transportation, and places of worship to recognize signs of cognitive impairment and to communicate with those with dementia and their caregivers so that they feel safe and respected during daily activities in the community.

When developing a successful dementia-friendly community, it’s important to include a broad representation of the community.

“Every sector in the community needs to do its part—financial, legal, business, clinical, caregiving,” says Olivia Mastry, Dementia Friendly America co-founder. “To organize a whole community, you need to convene a very broad set of stakeholders around the table. That takes time and convincing, sometimes. But once you have them together, the process unfolds over a nine-month or so period.”

Wake Forest is the first area in North Carolina to establish a Dementia Friendly Community. The effort is led by the Senior Information and Networking Group Wake Forest, SING-WF. Community-wide meetings are held quarterly.

Learn More

Becoming a Dementia-Friendly Community is the “Lunch and Learn” topic held Tuesday, January 24 from 1 – 2 p.m. at the Five Points Center for Active Adults in Raleigh. Tammy Robbins, member of SING-WF and works for Carillon Assisted Living, is the presenter.

Reserve a seat by January 16 by emailing

“Lunch and Learn” workshops are held several times a year. You bring your lunch and learn about a variety of topics that benefit seniors and their caregivers. Beverages and cookies are provided.

Sponsors for the “Lunch and Learn” events include Resources for Seniors, The Center for Volunteer Caregiving, and Wake County Community Resource Connections for Aging and Disabilities.

Watch this video from Dementia Friends USA to learn how everyone has a unique part to play in the lives of people living with dementia.