Q:  What is Dementia Friendly America? Do we have a local group in Ventura County?

A:  Dementia Friendly America (DFA) is a nationwide network of communities who strive to support people with dementia and their family caregivers. A dementia friendly community is informed, safe and respectful of individuals with the disease, their families, and caregivers. Joining DFA means a community is engaging in a process to become more dementia friendly, which helps foster a better quality of life for people with dementia.

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging become one of four organizations in California to be certified by Dementia Friendly America. They created Dementia Friendly Ventura County, a group made up of service providers and individuals with shared goals.

There are three goals for Dementia Friendly Ventura County (DFVC). The first is to create a county where persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are valued and respected, feel safe, and their caregivers are supported. The second goal is to educate and inform all entities that serve the public about the unique needs of this population to better serve and support them. And thirdly, to promote community awareness of the condition and how individuals and businesses can make a positive difference.

You can visit their website at https://www.vcaaa.org/about-us/advocacy/dementia-friendly-ventura/ to learn more. Businesses can take a training on the website to become a Dementia Friendly business. You can use the interactive map on the website to find businesses near you that have taken the training. For example, if you are caring for a parent who has dementia and you want to find a barber that has training in dementia, you can use this site to search for one.

DFVC is partnering with industry professionals to offer a One-Stop-Shop for people living with dementia and their caregivers. It is called “Living Well, Caring Well” and provides an opportunity to go to one location and gather information from a variety of services and supports. It will have representatives from different services including Adult Day Programs, Caregiver Programs, Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy, Legal services, Neurologists, and public benefit programs such as Cal Fresh and Medi-Cal.

The One-Stop-Shops will be held quarterly in different locations to be accessible to anyone who needs them. It is free and no registration is required. The first one will be held Wednesday, September 7th from 10 am to 12pm at the Camarillo Healthcare District, located at 3639 E. Las Posas Road in Camarillo. You can drop in any time during the event to talk to experts, gather information and learn more about what is available in your community.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias effect so many of us, either personally or through someone you know. Every 65 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to increase to every 33 seconds by 2050. Alzheimer’s and other related dementias are the sixth leading cause of death in the USA and California, and the fourth leading cause of death in Ventura County. In order to create a community that is accepting, patient, and provides the services and supports needed, we must all get involved. Take time to do the training on the DFVC website yourself if you are not familiar already. Share with your friends and neighbors about the One-Stop-Shop events so that everyone who needs the information has it available to support them.

To learn more about Dementia Friendly Ventura County you can email lois.vcaaa@ventura.org or call 805-777-7300.


Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.

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