Alexandria, VA – Who has been affected by dementia? Nearly everyone in a packed Sister Cities Conference Room in City hall raised their hands when the question was posed on Tuesday, July 30. Millions of Americans, their families, and caregivers suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia, and more than 200 cities in 40 states are working to be dementia-friendly.
Now Alexandria is one of them.
“We want to make sure they are fully engaged members of our community.I don’t think there is anyone who is not alarmed when someone they know receives a dementia diagnosis,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “This is a significant undertaking for our city, to ensure those with dementia and their caregivers are supported in our city. Let’s make it happen.”
Wilson also presented a city proclamation, which called on Alexandrians to take part in the initiative.
Alexandria Living Legend Jane King spearheaded the Alexandria Strategic Plan on Aging, and said that the proclamation is a positive step for Alexandrians living with dementia. There are nearly 6 million people around the country diagnosed with dementia, and a majority of them are 65 and older.
“This bodes so well for a dementia-friendly Alexandria,” King said.
The dementia-friendly initiative began in 2015 after the White House Conference on Aging. Around the world, though, the city of Bruges, Belgium, is widely regarded as one of the leaders in the dementia-friendly movement.
“It’s so easy to look at the challenges, and we so rarely look at the opportunities,” said Melissa Andrews, the president and CEO of LeadingAge Virginia, who recounted growing up with a family member who suffered from dementia, and said that inclusion is key to slowing down the effects of the disease.