Post image for Alzheimer’s Awareness and Support Goes Local. What’s Happening in Minnesota

As our population ages and no cure or effective treatments for Alzheimer’s are in sight, it is apparent we have to do more to accommodate those living with the disease and their caregivers.

The challenge is how to build awareness and understanding and then take action?

What’s happening in my native Minnesota is a great example of communities coming together to provide solutions.  A volunteer-driven, advocacy group, ACT on Alzheimer’s, is helping the state prepare for the ever-increasing number of people living with a form of dementia.

With its sights on making change from the ground up, Act on Alzheimer’s mission is five fold:

  1. Identify and invest in promising approaches
  2. Increase detection and improve care
  3. Raise awareness and reduce stigma
  4. Sustain caregivers
  5. Equip communities.

Earlier this year, ACT on Alzheimer’s awarded grants to 32 communities across Minnesota with the intent of becoming more dementia-friendly.  I learned about the effort in a story written by Jeremy Olson, a health reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

To help communities, Act on Alzheimer’s offers a tool kit and resources designed to foster understanding, reduce stigma, and spotlight the challenges encountered by those living with the disease.

Several cities have launched “memory cafe” events where those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers can gather for social interaction.

Businesses in particular are targeted in these communities.  For example, shop owners are learning how to de-clutter store aisles and outside walkways, retrofit dressing rooms to accommodate those who need the help of personal caregivers, and generally think about how they can better accommodate this growing population.

Upon request, participating businesses receive a “Dementia Friendly” sign to display in their store front.

Act on Alzheimer’s is not focused on finding a cure.  Instead, its purpose is to help those already mired in the disease.  These efforts may even help contain the enormous costs associated with dementia care.  From their homepage: “ACT on Alzheimer’s is a volunteer driven, statewide collaboration preparing Minnesota for the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.”  Bravo!

Want to learn more about how Minnesota is preparing locally for those living with dementia?  Visit the ACT on Alzheimer’s website.

I’d love to hear what is happening in other states with similar grassroots organizations.  Please feel free to share in the comments section.

*Photo Purchased From iStockPhoto

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