Tinley Park Pursues Dementia Friendly Town Designation
World Alzheimer’s Day takes place every year on 21 September, during World Alzheimer’s Month (September) and this year (2021), Tinley Park has achieved the destinction of being designated a Dementia Friendly Community.
In an effort to do its part to help, the Village of Tinley Park has partnered with Porter Place and signed a proclamation on Sept. 7, 20201 joining Porter Place, an Anthem Memory Care community, in its commitment to improve the journey of persons with dementia and their support systems. Porter Place and is part of Dementia Friendly America, a national initiative to ensure communities across the U.S. are equipped to support people living with dementia and their caregivers. Launched back in 2015, in the aftermath of the White House Conference on Aging, the Dementia Friendly America program really gained traction after a successful Minnesota statewide pilot project, ACT on Alzheimer’s. And it has since grown and extended to other states.
More than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, with more than 230,000 Americans diagnosed in Illinois. In Illinois alone, more than 381,000 family caregivers bear the burden of the disease, accounting for roughly 480 million hours of unpaid care, which is valued at $8.5 billion.
“Dementia and Alzheimer’s are a growing public health concern locally and nationwide,” Porter Place Community Relations Director Meredith Morris said. “It’s a very emotional issue for the growing number of families affected by the disease. The more work we can do to educate the public and increase understanding of the disease, the more support there will be for the individuals with the disease and the families who care for them.”
The initiative is a two-year process that will involve working with the entire community, including chamber of commerce members, law enforcement, first responders, faith communities and more. Only 18 communities have this designation in Illinois at this time.
“As Americans are living longer and staying active more than ever, we are witnessing an increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Tinley Park Village Trustee William Brennan said. “Many in our community, including myself and staff, know first-hand the toll the disease takes on loved ones. We are proud to join Porter Place in championing the effort to make Tinley Park a better place and encourage all residents and businesses to join us.”
What is the Dementia Friendly Illinois Initiative?
Dementia Friendly Illinois began in 2017 as part of Dementia Friendly America. There are 18 communities in Illinois designated as Dementia Friendly, with many more in the process. The Illinois Cognitive Network supports Dementia Friendly Illinois and has collected resources to help the efforts of communities in Illinois to become part of the Dementia Friendly America movement.
Dementia Friendly Illinois is about working with persons with dementia and their support systems. All too often, persons living with or at risk for dementia feel left out from the activities in their community that promote well-being. Dementia Friendly Illinois is about reversing the narrative. Communities, big and small, can see the value in making their communities more dementia-friendly. Dementia Friendly Illinois is about improving the journey of persons with dementia and their support systems.
The process for becoming designated a Dementia Friendly Community takes roughly two years and consists of educational awareness campaigns, the sharing of resources, training opportunities for front-line staff in all sectors and more.
First, it begins with the development of a task force or action team. Thus far, the action team consists of members from the following sectors: local government, first responders, library, park district, financial, faith-based and healthcare. Anyone interested in joining the action team is welcome, and may reach out to Hannah Lipman at [email protected] to do so!
There are four key phases in the process:
- Convene key community leaders and members to understand dementia and its implications for our community
- Engage key community leaders and members to understand dementia and its implications for our community
- Analyze community needs and determine the issues stakeholders are motivated to act on; then set community goals
- Act together to establish implementation plans for goals and identify ways to measure progress