Background: By 2050, 13.8 million Americans over 65 will be living with dementia, and most will live in the community. To extend each person's ability to remain living in their homes, we must educate community members across all sectors, and professionals across the continuum about dementia.
Methods: Dementia Friends (DF) is an international curriculum designed to increase awareness of dementia and create dementia inclusive communities. Transformation of communities can only occur through educational efforts delivered to specific community sectors. Standard DF educational content has been customized to increase dementia awareness for interprofessional and cross sector learners. This includes acute care (e.g., hospital staff and volunteers), community-based (e.g., Area Agency on Aging, Habitat for Humanity, RSVP, Veterans), department of correction, faith communities, first responders, families and caregivers. We partnered with our county health department and the local County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD) to systematically incorporate DF for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities training to the DD staff and their provider network. Additionally, we partnered with Asia Services in Action, Inc. to translate DF into Simplified Chinese and Nepali languages, and train ASIA, Inc. staff to deliver these programs. We also undertook a Dementia Inclusive Community initiative in an effort to establish a recognized Dementia Friendly community in northeast Ohio.
Results: We used the DF curriculum to educate participants across many sectors within that community. Data were collected voluntarily through online surveys using the Brief Tool for Dementia-Friendly Education and Training Sessions. Results from our Dementia Inclusive Community initiative (n=96) indicate participants felt more confident interacting with people living with dementia (p<.001) and better able to respond to people living with dementia with understanding ( p=.005) at post-session compared to pre-session.
Conclusions: Dementia Inclusive Communities require awareness across multiple sectors and we describe here how to, with minimal adaptations, successfully and meaningfully deliver content to meet the needs of specific community sectors. .