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September is World Alzheimer’s Month

Barbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBreak the silence, build a better community.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and more specifically, September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. This designation was created to break the silence about dementia in an effort to bring greater awareness and to dispel associated dementia myths and misconceptions.

When people affected by dementia stand up and speak about their experience, they open windows of opportunity for support, research, best practices, and understanding.

According to Linda Puzan, Clinical Services Supervisor at LifePath, “Worldwide, there are nearly 50 million people living with dementia and most of them have loved ones who are markedly impacted. Here in our corner of the world, LifePath knows there are many caregivers who oftentimes become isolated and families who struggle with how to relate to, interact with, and care for their loved one as the dementia progresses.”

By breaking the silence, the stigma of dementia can be lifted. When people affected by dementia stand up and speak about their experience, they open windows of opportunity for support, research, best practices, and understanding. Communities can begin to face dementia together with dementia-friendly planning and services. 

"Many communities across Franklin County and North Quabbin are recognizing the need to prepare for an increasingly older population through creating age- and dementia-friendly communities, and World Alzheimer's Month is a great opportunity to shine a brighter light on the impact of Alzheimer's Disease and what we can do individually and collectively. Challenging the stigma that continues to surround Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia, while emphasizing the importance of early detection, is one way to make our communities better informed and safer for those living with dementia,"  explains Nour Elkhattaby Strauch, Age-Friendly Program Manager. 

Nour is tackling this head on by engaging with communities in Franklin County and the North Quabbin area to weave age and dementia planning into town initiatives. A dementia friendly community is a town, city, or county that is informed, safe, and provides supportive options which foster quality of life, making it possible for the person with dementia to remain in the community, to be engaged, and to thrive. 

Transportation, housing, public spaces, business, and communities of faith are all domains in the day-to-day life of individuals with dementia, their caregivers, and loved ones. Modifications to how information is presented and adjustments in communications enable civic participation and engagement, with community support. For example, a dementia-friendly restaurant might offer a simplified menu with fewer choices and larger font, a table in a quiet area with little glare, and a server who makes direct eye contact, and speaks directly to the individual with dementia in a calm and clear manner.  Memory cafes, frequently sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, are welcoming places which provide a venue for socialization for both the individual with dementia and their caregiver. Making age and dementia-friendly adjustments to infrastructure and outdoor spaces and buildings creates more liveable communities for everyone, not just those affected by dementia. 

Caring for someone with dementia has its unique challenges. LifePath offers educational opportunities to better understand the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia and the impact the diagnosis can have on the whole family. Caregivers learn that they are not alone and they cannot control the disease. They can, however, gain skills to help manage stress and find joy in caring for their loved one.

  • Our Elder Mental Health Outreach Team (EMHOT), meets with elders in their homes, or another location of their choice, to discuss problems which impact their emotional well-being. Team members work with elders to help arrange for ongoing community support. 
  • LifePath also offers Support Groups facilitated by experienced practitioners who create a welcoming place to give and receive emotional support, share ideas and stories, and get needed resources and educational materials. Check our schedule of events to see upcoming group meetings. 
  • The Savvy Caregiver Trainings presented by LifePath are seven-week sessions designed for caregivers who assist family members or friends with dementia. It is a unique approach to caregiver education. Caregivers are encouraged to learn, develop, and modify approaches they can use to lessen their own stress and improve their particular situation. 
  • Our Dementia Coaching program offers one-on-one sessions through home visits, and telephone and video conferencing. Caregivers gain knowledge specific to their loved one’s dementia diagnosis, get tips for handling changes in behavior, and receive suggestions to help cope with the progression of the disease.

This month, and throughout the year, I encourage everyone to break the silence around dementia, to reach out to a neighbor, friend, or community member who is affected by dementia, and to listen first and show them support.

For more information, or for help for yourself or a loved one, please call LifePath at 413-773-5555, X1230 or 978-544-2259, X1230 to speak to a Resource Consultant, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..