Join a growing movement of people like you who are helping fellow community members living with dementia. A little support can make a big difference in their lives. Be a Dementia Friend!

Dementia Friends is a global movement that is changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia. Developed in the United Kingdom, the Dementia Friends initiative is underway in Hawaii and across the United States. By helping everyone in a community understand what dementia is and how it affects families, each of us can make a difference for people touched by dementia.

The movement aims to raise public awareness about dementia and encourage people to turn that understanding into positive action of some kind. For example, a Dementia Friend might offer assistance to an elder who appears lost or confused in a shopping center or at a bus stop. A Dementia Friend could help lead museum tours for a group of people dealing with memory loss but who enjoy going on social outings with their peers. A bank employee with training as a Dementia Friend might be better able to identify customers who are having difficulties managing their finances and recommend possible solutions.

The concept is simple, Dementia Friends Champions hold one-hour information sessions in the community. During these sessions, participants not only learn about what dementia is, but we also stress that people with dementia can still enjoy a good quality of life with support from their friends and loved ones. The information session ends with participants making a pledge to take action in their own communities.

Hawaii, with its long tradition of revering kupuna and extending the aloha spirit to people of all ages, seems like a natural setting for building dementia-friendly communities. The movement is already underway as groups such as ‘Iolani School students, the Rotary Club, bank employees and senior groups have participated in a Dementia Friend information session. With many people doing something positive for those living with dementia, dementia-friendly communities can be a reality in Hawaii.

This initiative is a partnership between Age-Friendly Honolulu, the Hawaii Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative at UH, and the State Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias taskforce.

If your organization, worksite, senior club, or other group is interested in inviting a Dementia Friends Champion to conduct an information session, e-mail Christy Nishita at cnishita@hawaii.edu. For more information, visit www.dementiafriendsusa.org

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