Building Momentia in Your Neighborhood
Quick tips for developing a new dementia-friendly program
1. Follow the lead of persons living with dementia
One of the principles of Momentia is that persons living with dementia are the authorities on what it means to live with memory loss and what ‘meaningful engagement’ looks like. Connect with persons living with dementia in your neighborhood and ask:
· What brings you joy?
· What is one gift you have to give?
· What is one place in your community that you especially love?
What you hear may spark a brand-new dementia-friendly program!
2. Work with others
Another principle of Momentia is that we are better together. You will have more success if you’re not trying to do it all on your own! While one person might want to help coordinate a program, one might want to provide funding, another might want to donate supplies or train volunteers. Consider who else might want to be involved, and invite them to use their talents and passions!
3. Incorporate your neighborhood assets
Another principle of Momentia is making use of public spaces – neighborhood assets like parks, museums, theaters, cafes, art galleries, community centers, senior centers and more. Persons living with dementia have the right to access these spaces but often encounter barriers to remaining involved. Meanwhile, many of these venues have times during the day when they are less crowded or are even empty. What an opportunity! Can your neighborhood art gallery be the location for a dementia-friendly art gallery tour? Can the food bank down the street provide a setting for a dementia-friendly volunteer program? Can your local coffee shop host an Alzheimer’s Café? Be inspired by the vibrant public spaces around you and be a part of building a dementia-friendly community!
4. Go where the energy is
As you proceed, pay attention: Who says “yes”? Where are the open doors? If you find yourself frustrated or coming up against road blocks, shift in a direction where you sense more openness and enthusiasm. If you’re aiming to start an Alzheimer’s Café but one coffee shop declines, keep looking. If you continue to hear ‘no,’ shift gears and start back at Tip #1 to brainstorm another idea. The best option is when everything just “clicks” – and all those involved are excited to be a part of it.
5. Keep it simple
You don’t need to do anything overly complicated or flashy. One of the most popular dementia-friendly programs in Seattle is quite simple - a neighborhood walking group for persons living with memory loss and their family members. Consider a one-time event, a pilot program, or bringing something to your community that has worked elsewhere. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel. If you want to start somewhere, Alzheimer’s Cafes can be a nice first step as the model has been well-established and there are plenty of people to help guide you!
Want Some Advice?
Members of the Momentia Seattle Stewardship Team (MSST) can provide a tips on starting dementia-friendly programs.
For a list of Momentia Stewards, their organization, and contact information, click here.
Want Additional Support?
If you would like more support to bring Momentia to a Washington State community beyond Seattle, the UW Memory & Brain Wellness Center facilitates a project called “Momentia in My Neighborhood” in which partner organizations work alongside people with memory loss and their loved ones to design and implement pilot programs in their community. To learn more, contact MSST member, Marigrace Becker, 206.744.2017.