INNISFAIL – Interested residents, supporters and people touched by dementia came out for the Dementia Friendly Community Initiative launch last week.
The initiative kicked off an event at the Innisfail Library/Learning Centre on March 12.
The two-hour event included remarks from several guests and committee members, as well as an address from keynote speaker Sharon Hamlin, registered nurse and senior practice consultant for the Edmonton-based Seniors Health Strategic Clinical Network.
In addition, guests heard personal stories from people living with dementia and their caregivers.
“I think it’s important that we hear from people living with dementia and their care partners,” said Wendy Evans, geriatric assessment nurse with the Primary Care Network and member of the dementia friendly community steering committee. “To know what is it that they find challenging for them in this community and how best we can support them, not just from a medical perspective but also as a community.”
Other members of the steering committee include Jennifer Wood, Karen Bradbury, Ellen Helgason, Jean Barclay and Rebecca Aspden.
Evans said the community response to the initiative, leading up to the official launch, has been positive.
“l think it’s been much more than what we actually anticipated or expected,” she said. “People have really come out to listen to what this is about and actually reaching out to us and asking us how they can participate and support what we are trying to do.
“It really has been outstanding so far and I’m hoping we can keep that motivation going,” she added.
Following the launch on March 12, Evans said there are several projects the committee plans to present for the community.
“We’re going to do a learning series once a week in the month of April,” said Evans, noting topics to be discussed include the aging brain, reducing the stigma of dementia, caring for the care partner and diagnosis and treatment for dementia.
“Jennifer Wood will also be going around to different community members to teach what is dementia and what we can do as a community to support those individuals,” Evans concluded.