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Partners in Living Well: What does it mean to be a Dementia Capable Community?

Kirsten Cruikshank, Director of Community Partners

This week I thought I would address how wellness means different things to different people. Wellness is an important concept for healthy people. When we are healthy, we want to stay well. Wellness is also an important concept for people living with chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease. It is important for people at all stages of wellness to remain as active as possible. It is also helpful for communities to support active living. Our local fitness facilities, community education classes, wonderful trails, and programs like the new walking club are wonderful examples of how Lake County promotes wellness.

Community Partners has the opportunity to participate in an effort called “ACT on Alzheimer’s” that would help our community become “Dementia Capable.” Started in 2011, ACT on Alzheimer’s is a statewide collaboration preparing Minnesota for the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

According to 2013 Alzheimer’s Association facts and figures:

• One in nine persons age 65+ has Alzheimer’s;

• One third of people age 85+ have Alzheimer’s;

• One in seven with Alzheimer’s lives alone; and

• 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s live in their communities.

ACT on Alzheimer’s has developed a Dementia Capable Communities toolkit to guide communities. Funded through grants from Blue Plus, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, and the Medica Foundation, the purpose of the initiative is to engage Minnesota communities in becoming dementia capable and to support their efforts. Minnesota’s Area Agencies on Aging, including the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging, are partners in the ACT on Alzheimer’s collaborative.

A Dementia Capable Community is informed, safe and respectful of individuals with the disease, their families and caregivers, and provides supportive options that foster quality of life.

Funding is currently available and grant awards may be up to $18,000. Eligible communities must use the ACT on Alzheimer’s Dementia Capable Communities toolkit, undertake the processes defined by the toolkit, and implement at least one major priority goal area identified through the process. To learn more visit  

There are four action phases to the process:

• Convene key community leaders and members to form an action team;

• Assess current strengths and gaps within your community;

• Analyze community needs and develop a plan to take action;

• Act together to pursue priority goals that foster community readiness for dementia.

Is this something you would be interested in or would like to support? If you are interested, please contact me at and we can explore this together.