The mission of Dementia Friendly San Antonio is to build an inclusive community where everyone touched by dementia is respected, engaged, and supported. We will achieve this by creating sustainable partnerships to facilitate change across our community.
Dementia Friendly San Antonio (DFSA) is a community-wide grassroots initiative lead by an advisory board of community members in collaboration with the Caring for the Caregiver program, UT Health San Antonio, who have come together to address the pressing need for an inclusive community that supports families touched by dementia. In the state of Texas there are over 390,000 Texans aged 65 years and older living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. With this number anticipated to increase 28.9% by 2025 we recognize the need for a community that is more inclusive, respectful, and safe where everyone feels included, engaged and supported.
Who is involved?
Dementia-friendly communities include:
- Local governments who plan and implement housing, transportation, public spaces, and emergency response that enable people with dementia and care partners to thrive
- Neighborhoods and community members that learn to interact sensitively and create networks of support
- Faith communities that are welcoming and have specialized programs, services or accommodations
- Businesses and banking support for customers with dementia by accommodating cognitive impairment
- Restaurants, grocery stores, and libraries that offer services and supports that foster access and independence
- Community members learning to interact sensitively and create networks of support
- Law enforcement and first responders that recognize signs of dementia and respond accordingly
Embarrassment. Stigma. Isolation. Withdrawal. Fear.
That was my husband’s response to the devastating diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease in 2009.
So much has changed. We felt alone. We did not know who to turn to for help because of the stigma of the disease. This is a disease that families wanted to hide. You did not talk about it.
This is no longer true. As a community we have moved from darkness to light because of Dementia Friendly. Our community now recognizes that dementia impacts everyone! Not just the patient, not just the caregiver, not just the family! It has become more than an awareness campaign. It is first an educational process that then moves to ways to provide all types of community assistance to those impacted by this disease.
DF incorporates the community in identifying ways to validate the lives impacted by dementia. Tackling dementia requires the voices and efforts of everyone.
Dementia Friendly means we are no longer alone on this long journey.
UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing is committed to educational practices that will prepare our future nursing workforce to provide science-based compassionate care to families touched by dementia. With the Caring for the Caregiver program leading the initiative, this proximity provides ongoing opportunities for engaging faculty, staff, and students in dementia friendly opportunities. Examples of activities already in place to nurture awareness and respect for people living dementia include faculty encouraging students to become dementia friends and providing credit for this activity in relevant classes. Students are encouraged to become a dementia friend and through clinical rotations, students are experiencing the virtual dementia tour to increase their understanding and empathy for people living with dementia.
University Health System (UHS) is committed to ensuring patients living with dementia and their family members are treated with dignity and respect in a compassionate and inclusive environment. UHS will use an innovative approach to train staff members with the Virtual Dementia Tour, which will allow staff to see daily tasks from the perspective of a person living with dementia. UHS recognized a need to provide staff with the essential knowledge and skills needed when caring for a patient living with dementia. To meet this need UHS has also created a diversional activities program to enhance interactions with patients.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) recognizes the Dementia Friendly community-wide initiative and understands that in order to best serve the community, they must be receptive to the voiced needs and concerns of people living with dementia and their care partners. This will be best accomplished through increased awareness and expanded resources. For example, the BCSO recently launched a sticker campaign to improve communication between people living with dementia and first responders.
Community Advisory Board
- Deputy Richard Lozano, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
- Jennifer Brackett, Special Events Coordinator, Caring for the Caregiver
- Melissa Flores, Licensed Professional Counselor, Glenn Biggs Institute
- Ginny Funk, Alzheimer’s Association San Antonio & South Texas Chapter
- Gabrielle Gelo, Specialist in Long Term Care Solutions, ACSIA Partners
- Nina R. Guerra, mmLearn.org
- Meghan Leibas, Nurse Educator, Center for Clinical Excellence, UHS
- Charlie Mason, Community Member/Family Caregiver
- Ryan McGuire, Griswold Home Care
- Ashley Weirich, Ardent Courts Memory Care Community
- Laura Novak, UT Health San Antonio, Occupational Therapy
- Gerri Peters, Community Member/Family Caregiver
- Charles Reed, Executive Director, Center for Excellence in Patient Care, UHS
- Linda Sendaula, Community Member/Family Caregiver
- Tina Smith, WellMed Caregiver SOS
- Lisa Hurstone, Improve to Grow
- Dianne Teran, Alzheimer’s Association San Antonio & South Texas Chapter
- Carole White, UT Health Caring for the Caregiver
- Mary Young, Community Member/Family Caregiver