Caring for family, friends, and our community

Join the Dementia Friendly America Movement

Dementia Friends Group Photo

Lauren J. Muzzy |
Posted on Feb 11, 2020

I’m excited to share news about a special community initiative that was launched last September, and is being embraced by individuals and businesses.  

Did you know that, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is anticipated that 14 million Americans will be living with some form of dementia by the year 2050? Furthermore, the cost of care is expected to rise from $290 billion in 2019 to $1.1 trillion in 2050.

These startling statistics prompted Jennifer Holcomb, Director of Memory Support at Cross Keys Village - The Brethren Home Community, to take action by collaborating with other community providers to be proactive in meeting the challenges of people living in the local community with dementia symptoms. 

More specifically, Ms. Holcomb partnered with local community businesses to form a steering committee and launched the local chapter of Dementia Friendly America (DFA) in 2018. The York/Adams Chapter of Dementia Friendly PA is one of only three in the Commonwealth that have committed to the effort; the other two chapters include the Greater Pittsburgh Area and Bucks County. The national DFA movement began in Minnesota in 2015.

The goal of DFA is to make local communities more aware and better prepared to care for family, friends, coworkers and neighbors who live with dementia symptoms. This movement seeks to cultivate a community that is informed, safe and respectful of individuals living with the disease as well as their caregivers. Every person plays a pivotal role and works together to create a dementia friendly culture that eliminates stigma and promotes socialization and engagement.

The first step taken in launching DFA in the counties of Adams and York was offering informational sessions to anyone interested in becoming a Dementia Friend. Dementia Friends is part of a global movement that is changing the way everyone thinks, acts and talks about dementia. Anyone can become a Dementia Friend by learning what it is like to live with dementia and turning that understanding into action. Since the beginning of 2019, Ms. Holcomb and her committee have trained hundreds of local Dementia Friends.

The steering committee --- comprised of representatives from the Alzheimer’s Association, Visiting Angels, UPMC Hanover, Mooney & Associates, Good News Consulting, York County Area Agency on Aging, and Adams County Office for Aging, as well as community volunteers --- are spreading the word to engage the local business community to provide supportive options that foster quality of life. From grocery stores and banks to local retailers and hair salons, everyone shares a responsibility for ensuring that people with dementia feel understood, valued, and cared for within the local community. 

For example, by working with local grocers, DFA can promote independence by creating a dementia friendly check-out process or providing a personal shopper trained to assist when challenges with the disease arise. Difficulty managing finances can be an early sign of dementia. Financial services professionals that partner with DFA can use dementia friendly practices to help maintain clients’ independence while protecting them from problems such as unpaid expenses, squandered resources, avoidable guardianship, and financial abuse, neglect or exploitation.

ACNB Bank and NWSB Bank took the first step to become a dementia friendly business in August when Ms. Holcomb visited the ACNB Corporation Operations Center in Gettysburg, delivered an educational presentation, and provided tangible examples and guidance to customer-facing staff members including all of the Bank’s community banking managers and community banking specialists. 

The Bank plans to provide additional training to staff members this month to help identify instances of suspected fraud or theft for a customer living with dementia and how to advise and report the matter appropriately. As a community banking organization, we're focused on providing staff members with the tools and resources available to help customers successfully manage their finances and reach their financial goals.

If you are interested in partnering with the DFA York/Adams Chapter, please contact Jennifer Holcomb at j.holcomb@crosskeysvillage.org or 717-624-5474. You may read more about the local DFA initiative by visiting Cross Keys Village's website and the Pennsylvania initiative Dementia Friends PA's website . Additional resources and guidance for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers are provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Lauren J. Muzzy
Lauren J. Muzzy