Three years ago, Armbrook Village partnered with their home city to put Westfield, MA on the map as the first Dementia Friendly City on the East Coast of the US. The effort included an intense training program aimed at those who work with seniors, from nurses, CNAs and elder care professionals to police, fire and municipal workers, and a public education program designed for caregivers and family members as well as the general public. This month the independent and assisted living community launched their Dementia Friendly Communities program with the Town of Southwick.
Representatives from the town’s Council on Aging, Police, Fire, Library, Select Board and others took the first steps toward making their community Dementia Friendly by partaking in an interactive sensitivity training, The Dementia Experience, which synthesizes the feeling of having dementia and asks participants to accomplish necessary everyday tasks such as creating a meal, preparing medications and getting dressed. Part of the educational program also included a presentation on what dementia is and what it is not, as well as a discussion on best communication practices for engaging with those who have dementia or symptoms of cognitive impairment.