CICOA expands Dementia Friends Indiana statewide

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Sign up to become a Dementia Friend at www.DementiaFriendsIndiana.org

What does it take to become a Dementia Friend? A few minutes of your time and the willingness to help if you see someone struggling with memory loss.

A Dementia Friend is someone who wants to make a positive difference in the lives of people with the condition. More than one hundred ten thousand (110,000) Hoosiers are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia. The Dementia Friends movement helps to reduce stigma and make welcoming community environments.

CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions launched Dementia Friends Indiana – part of Dementia Friends America – in 2018 with a pilot program in Hamilton County. Because of the success, CICOA announced it is expanding efforts to educate communities statewide.

During the pilot program, CICOA partnered with Conner Prairie in Fishers, which now hosts a free monthly Memory Café for people with dementia and their caregivers. The living history museum also trained staff and improved signage and maps to help people find quiet resting areas.

The Carmel Fire Department became the first in the state to become Dementia Friends and has educated the department on identifying people with dementia and how best to help them. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security created an online educational tool for its EMS workforce. St. Vincent Center for Healthy Aging has adopted the Dementia Friends movement as part of its age friendly hospital philosophy and practices.

Already nearly 3,000 people have become a Dementia Friend. CICOA wants more people and organizations across the state to commit to becoming a Dementia Friend by making life easier to navigate for someone who suffers from the condition.

How to Become a Dementia Friend

Becoming a Dementia Friend is easy. Watch a video online or attend a workshop, which is offered at various locations around Indianapolis. As of June, CICOA also is working with other Area Agencies on Aging to expand workshops throughout the state and is looking for organizations and businesses willing to host workshops.

“Understanding dementia and breaking down the stigma associated with it is the most important and effective thing we can do right now,” said Dustin Ziegler of CICOA, who is leading the initiative. “Given the increased number of people diagnosed with dementia, every community sector is affected, which means everyone can play a role.”

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