Rural communities as a radical idea for dementia-friendly living

With the promotion in the past few years to create age-friendly communities and dementia-friendly communities, my brain has been thinking of how this could change our way of looking at community living and intergenerational socialization.

Today, over my cup of coffee and thinking about a documentary I had seen on aging in Japan, I had one of those spark moments. You know, when you get an idea that seems like it could really make a difference in the world. Continue reading


Review! Alzheimer Syndrome – Part 2

Last week, I joined the Alzheimer’s Speaks Talk Radio for their show on Alzheimer Syndrome. Dr. Cameron Camp, the Director of Research for the Center for Applied Research in Dementia was joining to share his ideas on Alzheimer Syndrome and how it affects the culture of care.

When I came across the Alzheimer’s Speaks Blog post about their radio show with Dr. Camp on this very topic, I was excited to join in and hear more about it. I was hoping that he had further information on these barriers, doors, and stigma and a (good) explanation for why they would now want to change the name of Alzheimer’s.

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Danish-English differences in describing dementia

One of the interesting things about speaking two languages and having lived in two different cultures, is discovering differences in the cultural meanings of words. I have lived in Denmark since 2004, and I came in knowing the US jargon used in Gerontology and in dementia care, but had to learn how the Danish language describes the terms. (Jargon is the vocabulary used by a particular trade, profession, or group – like how medical terminology is medical jargon). Continue reading

Dementia village coming to Denmark!

Odense to build Denmark’s first dementia village

Du kan også læse denne indlæg på dansk her.

04. June 2015
Odense bygger Danmarks første bydel til demente

OK-Fund contacted Odense Municipality about a year ago to create a one-of-a-kind dementia offer in Denmark. It happens now with the construction of an entire new district with dementia. The key for us was to find a municipality that is willing to take the lead and dare to think new , says OK Foundation director Michael Brostrøm who here signs the agreement with the Mayor Anker Boye ( S ) , Councilman per Berga (EL ) and urban and cultural councilor Jane Jegind (V).

Inspired by Holland included new dementia city precinct – OK Foundation builds and operates the “City of Life.” The ground has yet been found.

Odense: “City for Life” is the name of a whole new city precinct; a district which from 2018 will house between 200 and 300 people with dementia.

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Alzheimer’s Association Denmark: 7 tips for how to help a person with dementia

Do you know someone with dementia? Do you have a hard time figuring out how to talk to them or what you can do to help? Are you not sure how to talk to friends about a recent diagnosis of dementia in your family? This article is from the Alzheimer’s Association in Denmark and gives 7 tips on how you can help a person with dementia (and help yourself to learn more about it on the way).

Happy reading and I hope it brings good experiences!

I have made my own translation from Danish, so some of the words may be changed, but the meaning has been preserved. I have also removed the videos, as they are in Danish. Dette indlæg er oprindeligt på dansk, læse det her (og med videoer).

“I love you, but I can’t remember who you are”

7 tips for how to help a person with dementia 

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Stop Stigma: Think before you speak!

I had posted a great article on my Google+ account about a woman who shares her story of actively LIVING with dementia. She wrote books, she gave talks, she even remarried! You can read the article here, and her webpage here. And I highly recommend it.

One of the points she makes in the article is about making it better for people who are diagnosed. She doesn’t necessarily mean making their prognosis better, but how they are accepted into society and respected a humans.

‘I’m really passionate about trying to make it better for other people being diagnosed today,’ she said.

‘I want people to feel brave and I want society to accept us as disabled people amongst us who deserve dignity and respect, not to be shunned and laughed at.

‘There are so many jokes out there about old timers disease and “I’m losing my marbles”. It’s so hurtful. people don’t realise that it’s like saying “I’ve got a touch of cancer today”. It’s a terminal illness that people joke about.’

This really resonated with me. I get frustrated when I hear people comment that “they are old, so they forget a lot,” or that they have “part-timers,” “old-timers,” or another handy phrase to make a joke about their momentary lapse in memory. I am uncomfortable calling them out to their face and saying, “hey, that’s incorrect and offensive.” Sometimes I will say that I work with dementia, but about half the time this is welcomed with, “so you know what I mean, then!” However, I find that if I talk about young-onset dementia, I see a change in people’s faces, when they realize it really isn’t just for “old people” and that it is, in fact, a very serious syndrome.

For people with dementia, it’s every day. They have dementia every single day, and in every single place they go. It’s not a matter of incorrectly counting change once in a while, or forgetting your silverware with lunch one day. Dementia is different from normal age-related memory changes (which do exist, as the brain has more information to search through to recall previously stored information), because the brain is working and aging in a different way than a healthy brain. When people are making fun of dementia, it’s really not funny.

I remember when I was an intern at the World Health Organization in Copenhagen, one of the ladies ahead of me in the lunch line asked me to pass her some silverware that she forgot to pick up, saying “I’m old, you don’t understand yet, but you forget things when you’re old.” She was in her 50s (which is over a decade away from the definition of old). And probably didn’t know that I have a degree in Aging Studies (Gerontology). Or that I was an intern in the Age-Friendly Cities program and was currently writing my PhD on dementia care. But, the point is, she shouldn’t have to know that stuff to realize what she was saying was incorrect, perpetuating stigma about aging, and making folly of dementia.

If we take a little time to think about what we are saying when we talk about memory or dementia or people who we think are “old,” we gain some insight into how we really feel about those topics. We also get a moment to consider if it is respectful and accurate, or if it’s something best left in our thoughts.

Redesigning dementia care

This is a re-post from Crisis Prevention Intervention. Amy Schoenemann gives some great insight into design considerations for care!

Spotlight on Design for Dementia Care: An Interview With PDC Midwest’s Amy Schoenemann

By Terry Vittone | Posted on 06.04.2014

Spotlight on Design for Dementia Care: An Interview With PDC Midwest’s Amy Schoenemann

CPI recently had a chance to catch up with Amy Schoenemann, Director of Design Development and Project Architect for PDC Midwest, a Wisconsin-based architect-led design-build firm that specializes in senior living.

Throughout the last 18 years, PDC has been commissioned by regional and national senior care owner-operators to provide nearly 490 senior care projects in 27 states, and they are on the forefront of the trend in memory care facilities toward designing environments that engage and support residents.

Firms like PDC Midwest are of special interest to CPI’s Dementia Care Specialists, because we believe strongly that physical environments are critical components of successful memory care programs, where the combination of specialized care and environment create an optimum level of function, safety, and quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s/dementia.
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Take Advantage of the Summer Weather

How Older Adults and Caregivers Can Take Advantage of the Summer Weather

This is a re-post from our friends at, offering ideas for getting outside and enjoying the summer weather together!

Enjoying a breezy spring day or the warm summer temperatures don’t have to be a distant memory for elders and caregivers. After being cooped up in the house for possibly months at a time, senior adults can breathe in the fresh air, even if they are experiencing mobility problems. It takes some advance planning and choosing an activity that won’t seem like a chore, but it’s worth getting out of the house, for you and your elderly parent.

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Caregiving at a Cookout

Caregiving at a Cookout:  Tips for a Good Time

This is a re-post from, a great website with plenty of ideas and resources for caregivers.

Almost everyone looks forward to gathering with family and friends for a backyard barbecue. But if you’ve been dreading going to one because of your responsibilities as a caregiver, never fear: Both you and your elderly loved one can have a fine time, if you plan ahead.

But first, make sure that your relative is in good enough health to attend a party where there will be heat, bugs, noise, smoke from the grill and possibly rambunctious children. Also, check with your hosts to ensure that they understand and can accommodate your loved one’s limitations. If not, find another caregiver to look after your relative while you attend alone; it’s important for you to socialize and recharge.

However, if your hosts are amenable and your loved one is up to it, don’t leave him or her behind. Joan Wright, a certified geriatric manager at NVNA and Hospice in Norwell, Mass., told AgingCare that you should remember that every elderly person was once young, mobile and eager to socialize. “Those desires are still there even if their physical capacity to fulfill them is not.”

Here are some tips from Ms. Wright and others to ensure that everyone has a good time:

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How communities can help people with dementia

In the professional side of dementia care, there has been a push in recent years to reduce the stigma associated with having dementia and being a caregiver for someone with dementia. This is often referred to in the academic literature as “normalizing dementia,” or making it more normal for people with dementia to be part of their communities. On the large-scale end, the World Health Organization has formed a Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities (which you can read more about in my post on my Internship on Age-Friendly Cities), which sets guidelines, milestones, and recommendations for communities who would like to be part of the network (you can read more about that here). While the focus is not on dementia only, guidelines and policy making are a step in the right direction so that citizens and residents of all ages and ability levels can truly be a part of their community.

5 Crucial Ways Communities Can Help People With Dementia

What would you think of a community that acknowledges the potential of people who have dementia? What about a community in which business and service workers have the skills to help people with dementia use their services safely and successfully?

Communities in the US and the UK are doing just that. In a town in Wisconsin, local businesses have formed the Watertown Dementia Awareness Coalition. Employers are working to make their environments “more dementia friendly and easier to navigate for a person with memory loss.” Employees are getting awareness training, and people with dementia are attending Memory Cafes, or gatherings filled with laughter, learning, and friendship.

In England, East Staffordshire is set to become dementia friendly. One of 20 communities that the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society is working with to be more inclusive of people with dementia by 2015, the district aims to provide people with sensitive care and support. A hospital in Burton has a head start: Staff at Queen’s Hospital have been recognized for improving their care of people with dementia, and each ward has a dementia champion who works with staff to help them understand and honor the needs of people living with condition.

Building Dementia-Friendly Communities: A Priority for Everyone, a guide from the Alzheimer’s Society, outlines a number of ways in which any community can better support people with dementia. Methods include ensuring that:

  1. People have access to early diagnosis and support.
  2. Health and social care services deliver sensitive care.
  3. People both at home and in care have access to all the help they need.
  4. Transport services and professionals are consistent, reliable, and respectful.
  5. Leisure and entertainment activities are inclusive and accommodating.

Here, you can find more resources to help you provide high-quality dementia care.