LUNENBURG — Ahead of a Dementia Friendly event slated for Monday, group Chairperson Keith Lanziotti says the information session is an important education opportunity for the community.
“It’s all about awareness,” said Lanziotti. “The overall goal of the event is to inform the town as to what we’ve been doing, what we hope to do, and maybe how they can help out.”
Hosted by the Lunenburg Dementia Friendly Action Team, the event will be held at the Lunenburg Public Library from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Dementia Friendly America is a national effort that seeks to equip communities to support those with dementia, their caregivers, and families.
According to the organization, over 5 million people across the country are living with Alzheimer’s disease today.
“A dementia friendly community is one that cares about its neighbors,” said Dementia Friendly America in a press release. “One that listens to the feeling of its residents with dementia.” “Our focus is to make people more comfortable with talking about dementia, recognizing it, and helping people with it,” said Lanziotti.
The Lunenburg Dementia Friendly Action Team was formed in October of last year, and is made up of representative from different sectors of town including town government, social services, businesses, home care, faith-based, and the senior center.
Lanziotti said the group recently added a person who is living with dementia to ensure people with the disease were being represented.
“The Action Team is really the foundation to becoming a dementia friendly Lunenburg,” said Lanziotti.
“We want to help people understand more about people with dementia and how to communicate with them.”
Lanziotti used the example of someone at the grocery store who is having challenges at checkout. How can town’s people lend a hand to someone with dementia in that situation, he asked.
The focus, he said, will be to provide training to people in town to deal with similar situations.
Lanziotti said that reorganizing buildings to be more dementia friendly was also a real possibility. Ensuring the town is accommodating to people with the disease is important, he said.
The team also hopes to provide emergency responders with a tool to guide their interactions with residents with dementia.
“What we hope to accomplish, if people are comfortable with doing this, is creating a database for first responders to have access to,” said Lanziotti.
The database would include the first and second points of contact for people living with dementia, and it would be an informative tool for emergency staff.
“It’s a quicker way for us to find people, identify people, and get in touch with their loved ones,” said Lanziotti.
Lanziotti said he hopes community members attend the event and leave with a better perspective on dementia.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about it,” he said. “You can reach out to somebody because you’re not alone. The whole movement throughout the country is about awareness and making people more comfortable with talking about it.”
Daniel Monahan: , dmonahan@sentineland enterprise.com