Goal: A dementia-friendly Pierce County

Jul 28th, 2020 | By | Category: News

With an aging population in Pierce County, the number of people living with dementia will increase. Lutheran Community Services Northwest (LCSN) is getting ready by working to create a dementia-friendly county.
The social services agency South Puget Sound region, based in Tacoma, received a nearly $1 million, three-year federal grant last year to improve dementia education and activities throughout the county
“We want to increase public awareness of dementia and how to support people with dementia in the community,“ said LCSN Dementia Services director Maria Holt. ”We are also implementing activities focusing on the arts to increase the quality of life of people with dementia and their care partners.”
There are an estimated 12,000 seniors living with dementia in Pierce County now. That figure will increase to 20,000 in 10 years as Baby Boomers age, Holt said.
LCSN is the regional lead host for Dementia Friends, an international public-awareness initiative. Awareness is raised through a 60-minute presentation that covers key information about dementia. Businesses, service groups, churches and other organizations are perfect for the sessions, Holt said, adding that sessions are being held virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the time is right, we will return to face-to-face sessions,” she said.
The sessions “are great for people who work and interact with the public,” said Wendy Morris, program manager for Dementia Services. “We want to reach anyone from bankers to baristas with our training.”
For the last five years, LCSN has offered social opportunities for people with dementia and their care partners. The agency teams with the Alzheimer’s Association for Zoo Walks in Tacoma, and has been hosting Memory Cafes throughout Pierce County.
Two new activities are on the horizon:
• Opening Minds Through Art classes will pair volunteers with people who have dementia. A trained instructor will lead weekly classes that will start this summer.
“It’s an opportunity for people with dementia to use their creativity,” Holt said. “We want people to have fun and be unrestrained with their art.”
• LCSN will partner with a local theater to offer Memory Ensemble, which uses techniques of improvisation to help people with dementia build coping skills and become less isolated. An acting instructor and a clinician will co-lead the class that will start this fall.
Additional information about Dementia Services and its programs is available at dementiafriendlypc.org and lcsnw.org.

Wendy Morris and Maria Holt (third and fourth from left) head a Lutheran Community Services Northwest-led effort to raise public awareness of dementia in Pierce County. “Dementia champions” who recruit and educate others for the campaign include (from left) Caitlyn Remington, Deborah Gurney, Rena Marken and Nikiesha Thornton.