Dementia Friends Michigan

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s – members of our family, our friends, and our neighbors. We may not even recognize that these individuals have Dementia, as symptoms present differently from person to person. They may be experiencing challenges in problem-solving, communicating, or making decisions. Some may have withdrawn from their social obligations due to embarrassment or shame. Educating ourselves on the disease can help us better support those living with dementia and their caregivers. Become a Dementia Friend and take a step toward making your community more Dementia Friendly.

Dementia Friends is a global social movement that focuses on five simple key messages. The goal is to change the way people think, act, and talk about dementia.  By incorporating Dementia Friends into open, accessible communities, we enable those living with dementia and those who care for them to be active participants in their well-being. Brandon Beck, Dementia Friends Michigan Program Coordinator explains, “The default reaction to a diagnosis of dementia tends to be one of despair. Dementia Friends works to change the narrative to one of hope.  While it’s perfectly normal to grieve what has been lost, a focus on preserved abilities and interests will boost the self-esteem of the individual and create opportunities for meaningful engagement. This person-centered approach is essential for working with those with Dementia.

The best thing about Dementia Friends – anyone can become one! The content is presented as a one-hour informational session where you will learn how to recognize signs of dementia, how to effectively communicate with people living with dementia, and simple actions you can take to make our community more supportive of those with dementia. The information is meant to be helpful no matter how you interact with people with dementia – whether you are a caregiver, a professional, a business owner, or a family member simply looking for support.

COVID-19 has also had a significant impact on those living with dementia. Changes in daily routines, barriers to social engagement, and new fears associated with the pandemic have exacerbated many of the challenges already present. In addition to Dementia Friends, the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) offers support groups, educational presentations presented by the Family Caregiver University, and many other resources for caregivers.  

More information on Dementia Friends can be found at - including upcoming sessions, how to request a session for your organization, and other ways to get involved. Sessions are currently being offered virtually via Zoom, so it’s never been easier for you or your organization to attend a session. Sessions can also be hosted in person for your agency by request. You can also call the AAAWM at (616) 456-5664. There is no cost to attend a session.