\r\nBy MaryAnne Beatty\r\nALEXANDRIA,VA- Earlier this year, Alexandria was accepted into the Dementia Friendly America network, which is part of a global movement developed by the Alzheimer's Society in the United Kingdom. The effort is being led by the City Commission on Aging and Goodwin House Alexandria to make Alexandria a \u201cDementia Friendly\u201d city.\r\nWhat does this mean? The goal of a dementia friendly community is to help everyone understand more about dementia, how it affects people, and how we each can make a difference in the lives of people living with the disease and their caregivers.\r\nAcross the United States, an estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer\u2019s dementia and this includes approximately 5.5 million ages 65 and older. Nearly 60 percent of people with dementia live in their own communities and one in seven lives alone. *\r\nThe Dementia Friendly America movement began in September 2015, following the White House Conference on Aging, and is based on the State of Minnesota\u2019s initiative, ACT on Alzheimer\u2019s. Communities around the country are taking action, with more than 200 in 40 states going through the process of becoming dementia friendly.\r\nAlexandria\u2019s Dementia Friendly initiative began in late February, when an action team assembled consisting of law enforcement, local government, residential and home care services, and local nonprofits.\r\nThe Action Team includes Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA), Old Dominion Home Care, Division of Aging and Adult Services, Goodwin House Alexandria, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria Public Library, Alexandria Police Department, Commission on Aging, At Home in Alexandria and Dementia Care Connections. The Commission on Aging and Goodwin House Alexandria serve as the champion organizations.\r\nOfficial support for the initiative came from the City\u2019s Division of Aging and Adult Services, SSA, Alexandria Police Department, LeadingAge Virginia, and Dementia Friendly Herndon. The Dementia Friendly Initiative has the support of Mayor Justin Wilson and the City Council.\r\nFor its initial effort to inform all sectors of the city, the team has reached out to the faith community and local emergency services. Education efforts continue to make various segments of the Alexandria community aware of this initiative and to become \u201cDementia Friendly Champions\u201d within their respective communities.\r\nThe goal is to support people who have dementia and their families and to make them aware of the resources available to them. Dementia Friendly Champion volunteers are not expected to know everything about Alzheimer\u2019s disease or other dementias, rather to have or know about resources to pass along to those in need. This includes the Alzheimer\u2019s Association Helpline \u2013 800-272-3900.\r\nIf you want to learn more about becoming a Dementia Friendly Champion or about the initiative in general, please contact Jackie Barbarito at email@example.com or Jane King with the Commission on Aging at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also email DFAlexandria@goodwinhouse.org.\r\nIt is possible to have a good quality of life with dementia\u2014and there is more to the person than the dementia. Let\u2019s work together to improve the lives of those with dementia.\r\n*Information and statistics provided by Dementia Friendly Alexandria Action Team and the World Health Organization.\r\n\r\nMaryAnne Beatty is the Director of Community Outreach for Senior Services of Alexandria.