Friends of Dementia

Friends of Dementia

Background

There is a stigma and lack of understanding in the public about dementia, which may cause loneliness and social detachment for people with dementia. In order to change this situation, the Alzheimer's Association in England initiated the "Dementia Friendly Communities" project in 2013. This project aims to raise public awareness of dementia and create safe, welcoming, and friendly environments for people living with dementia.

A friendly community is "a city, a community, or a village where people living with dementia are understood, supported and respected and feel safe in their ability to contribute to the community."

The project has been very successful in England, with over 1,300,000 participants in the program and 108 "friendly" communities.

Israeli's national dementia initiative listed raising awareness of the disease as one of its primary recommendations, and Eshel and its partners have chosen to adapt England's Dementia Friendly Communities model for use in Israel.

Need

The public lacks sufficient awareness and knowledge of dementia and the needs of people living with dementia. There is a need to develop communal living environments that are adapted for people with dementia.

Program

The program uses informational events and short films to educate the public on dementia and to raise awareness of the hardships faced by older adults living with dementia. Volunteers called "Dementia Champions" facilitate one-hour sessions, which include activities and discussions, to convey five key messages regarding dementia:

1. Dementia is not a natural part of aging: Every older adult will not be diagnosed with dementia, and not everyone diagnosed with dementia is old.

2. Dementia is caused by damage to the brain.

3. Dementia is related to memory loss and may also impair other functions such as life skills, daily functioning and language.

4. You can live with dignity with dementia. Despite the challenges that dementia brings with it, people can have a good quality of life with the right kind of support and an understanding of the disease and its challenges.

5. A person with dementia is greater than the disease - it is important to look at the person as the sum of his/her skills, life experience and history of life.

 

Dementia Champions undergo a short training program on dementia and lead sessions for the public, students, businesses and various organizations. All community members who participate in these sessions will become "Dementia Friends". Dementia Friends are asked to make an effort - large or small - to spread the messages of the program and help raise awareness of the disease. These actions can include volunteering with an organization, visiting a person living with dementia, leading an activity with an institution for people who are living with dementia, and spreading awareness of the program through social networks. All of these actions, will transform the community into a place where people with dementia can feel supported, understood and secure.

Outcomes

  • Increased public awareness and knowledge of dementia and individuals' needs
  • Established network of volunteers who can speak knowledgably about dementia
  • Increased dementia friendly environments
  • Increased number of Dementia Champions and Dementia Friends

Contract dates

2016 - 2020

Partners

Ministry of Health, NGO Emda