What does a dementia friendly Massachusetts look like?

By the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative web team

“What does it take?” That was the question attendees grappled with at the Dementia Friendly Massachusetts Summit on Monday, May 9, 2016.What does it take to build a dementia friendly community—a community that is informed, safe and respectful, and enables people living with dementia and those who care about them to live full, engaged lives.

Alice Bonner, Secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and Beth Soltzberg, Manager of the Alzheimer's/Related Disorders Family Support Program at JFCS
Alice Bonner, Secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and Beth Soltzberg, Manager of the Alzheimer’s/Related Disorders Family Support Program at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS).

Douglas, Massachusetts resident, Mike Bellville, 55, kicked off the day by sharing the challenges he faces living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Olivia Mastry, who leads a Minnesota collaboration working to make that state more dementia friendly, outlined specific steps businesses, government, and other community sectors can take to support people living with dementia and their care partners. Massachusetts Secretary of Elder Affairs Alice Bonner urged attendees to find a way to move forward, “We have to raise awareness and get people talking about this.”

Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs and Jewish Family and Children’s Service, both members of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative,  convened the meeting to bring together stakeholders from elder services, law enforcement, social services, and government to chart a direction for building a dementia friendly Massachusetts. It was sponsored by Tufts Health Plan Foundation.

Other speakers included BayPath Elder Services Executive Director Christine Alessandro; Andrea Burns, Director of Age-Friendly Boston; Erin Long of the Administration on Community Living; and Beth Soltzberg of JFCS Boston.

Read more about the summit: http://m.watertown.wickedlocal.com/article/20160510/NEWS/160519542

View tweets and photos from the summit via Storify: https://storify.com/THPFoundation/dementia-friendly-summit

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