Mid-Columbia earns ‘Dementia Friendly’ designation

The Mid-Columbia Gorge has become the first — and currently only — officially recognized Dementia Friendly community in Oregon.

The Dementia Friendly in the Gorge Initiative received the designation from Dementia Friendly America on June 26.

“It’s an honor to be recognized on a national scale for the level of teamwork and accomplishments being made here in the Gorge,” said Kris Boler, Older Adult Behavioral Health manager at Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc., an organization partnering in the initiative.

“Across the United States, about 5 million people age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia,” said a press release.

“Nearly 60 percent of people with dementia live in their own communities and one in seven lives alone. Communities across the country are taking up the call to support people with dementia and their caregivers by becoming ‘dementia friendly.’”

Dementia Friendly in the Gorge uses an evidence-based community toolkit to engage community members in a process that will help them determine their current strengths and gaps, identify community goals and ways to respond, and to act together to be dementia friendly.

To be officially recognized, a dementia friendly community does the following:

Raises awareness of and develops respect and inclusion for people with dementia.

Embeds services and resources in all areas of community to ensure meaningful access to community and promote quality of life.

Supports and educates people with dementia, their care partners and families from diagnosis through disease progression.

Promotes meaningful engagement in community life.

Several organizations are leading the Gorge’s community action team, said the press release, including Providence Health and Services, Hawk’s Ridge Assisted Living, GOBHI, Aging and People with Disabilities, the Area Agency on Aging and Hood River Valley Adult Center.

Everyone with an interest in preparing the Mid-Columbia Gorge region for the impacts of dementia is invited to participate in this community-wide effort. For more information, visit the Dementia Friendly America website at www.dfamerica.org.

To become a Dementia Friend, visit dementiafriendsusa.org. To get involved in the local Dementia Friendly Gorge Action Team, contact Britta Willson at Brittany.willson@providence.org or 541-3876404.

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