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December 15, 2020

Age friendly and dementia friendly: better together

We believe that a dementia friendly community is also an age friendly community. And that a community that is age and dementia friendly is better for everyone.

Age Friendly Leeds and Dementia Friendly Leeds were separate projects at Leeds Older People’s Forum until 2018, when we brought them together as Friendly Communities. Whilst retaining the individual characteristics of both schemes, the Friendly Communities project has created new ways to bring them together – like the sign up opportunity for organisations and businesses in Leeds.

Age Friendly Leeds, established since 2014, has done some great linked up work involving Leeds City Council, third sector organisations and health services across the city.

This is also the case for Dementia Friendly Leeds, which is part of the Alzheimer’s Society’s community initiative, and continues the work of Leeds Dementia Action Alliance. An article ‘Aligning age-friendly and dementia-friendly communities in the UK’ (1) sets the scene with a lot more detail about the background of these schemes and the international context.

There are lots of reasons why linking these schemes is an idea worth trying. People have a collection of different characteristics, and don’t fit neatly into the categories we use based on age and their medical conditions. In order to be effective anything which is dementia friendly must also be age friendly, because most people who are living with dementia are older; and anything which is age friendly must also be dementia friendly if it is to be open to all. Both schemes have the broad aim of making life better for older people, as Natalie Turner and Stacy Cannon conclude in their article about aligning them:

‘By learning from each other, both AFCs [Age Friendly Communities] and DFCs [Dementia Friendly Communities] can grow their reach and their impact as complementary, and not competing, programmes. This can only be a good thing for the millions of people they seek to benefit.’

There are also benefits for organisations and businesses:

  • It is more efficient to sign up to both schemes at the same time We know that businesses and organisations are busy so we have created a single sign up system.
  • Potential of increased customers By taking an action plan forward which includes both age and dementia friendly interventions: our resources provide lots of examples of actions to help an organisation or business create their plan.
  • Promoting your values The logos provided to businesses who have signed up show the wider community your business values. In this difficult time of adapting and recovering from Covid, showing that you appreciate the custom of older people and the welcome you offer can be a great way to build your customer base.

You can show your commitment to older people by joining both schemes at once when you complete the Age and Dementia Friendly Business Sign Up. We want to encourage businesses who have already joined the well-established Dementia Action Alliance to refresh their action plans when they sign up to the new combined scheme. The Friendly Communities team is available to help and can be contacted to support any organisation or business to develop their action plan.

Jude Woods
Communities Officer, Time to Shine

(1) Aligning age-friendly and dementia-friendly communities in the UK
(Natalie Turner, Stacy Cannon – Working with Older People, 2018)