Health Ambassadors

Dementia Friendly Communities

Building Dementia-Friendly Communities

A dementia-friendly community (DFC) is a village, town, city or county where residents are informed about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), and provide supportive options that foster quality of life for people with ADRD and their caregivers.

Members of a DFC recognize that people living with dementia are more than their diagnoses; that dementia can affect cognition, behavior, emotions and physical capabilities; and that everyone plays a role in supporting the independence, value and inclusion of people living with dementia.

DFCs can work toward official recognition from Dementia Friendly America, a national network of organizations led by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A).

Creating a DFC

As a first step, local stakeholders, including local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), come together to identify existing and needed community resources, and to create and implement a plan for becoming a DFC. With the help of CATCH-ON and its partners, they will convene development efforts, engage key leaders, analyze community needs and create implementation plans. CATCH-ON is currently piloting the process in two Illinois communities and developing a process to involve more communities.

Giving professionals the right tools

Educated health care clinicians and caregivers are the foundation of a strong DFC. CATCH-ON’s ADRD workshops educate community health care clinicians, students and staff members of community-based organizations about how to assess and address the needs of older adults and their caregivers, how ADRD can affect health care and caregiver needs, and the value of supporting the DFC. The workshops are designed so that participants can then train others in their organizations, sustaining this important education. If you’re a professional who would like to participate in these workshops, email

Educating community members

Dementia Friends training educates community members about the experience of dementia through in-person information sessions or online videos. If you’re interested in having an information session at your organization, email — and we hope you’ll encourage people in your community to watch the videos and become Dementia Friends. Community members can also become Dementia Champions, and spread this important information even further.