Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Forum Recap

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging highlighted the topic of dementia friendly communities during its annual Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Forum in Harrisburg, PA earlier this week. The Forum was kicked off by the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, Robert Torres, who remarked that more than 280,000 Pennsylvanians are living with dementia and that over 676,000 care partners support this population. He also noted that he is a card-carrying Dementia Friend.

The Forum was keynoted by n4a CEO Sandy Markwood, who is also Co-Chair of Dementia Friendly America. Sandy spoke about the importance of dementia friendly communities given the growing numbers of individuals living with dementia. While approximately 80 percent of people with dementia live at home or with family members, approximately one in five people with dementia live alone.
Following the keynote address came a powerful panel featuring a dementia friendly community leader from York/Adams County, PA, including a high school student who helps administer a Music and Memories initiative and speakers from the Dementia Friends Pennsylvania initiative. Rounding out the panel were a caregiver and person living with dementia who shared their personal perspectives.
In the afternoon, Sandy Markwood, and Dementia Friendly America Project Director, Meredith Hanley, led an interactive workshop focusing on how attendees could launch a dementia friendly effort in their community through simple steps.
Pennsylvania has been a leader in the development of dementia friendly communities and is guided by a Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force that was established by Governor Tom Wolf. Recent dementia friendly efforts in Pennsylvania have included promoting the development of memory cafes across the state.
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