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Examples of age- and dementia friendly community characteristics

Directs you to examples of age- and dementia friendly community characteristics

Table of Contents

1. Access, Equity, and Cultural Inclusion

It is important the diverse needs of all residents are addressed in your community's age- and dementia friendly work. In each group of examples below, please find links to guidance on being more accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive.

2. Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

  • ​​​(AF)* Public areas are clean and pleasant.

  • (DF)* Street clutter is minimal without excessive signage and advertisements.

  • (DF) Acoustic clutter (background noise) is minimized with acoustic barriers such as grass, rather than hard surfaces.

  • ​​​(AF) Green spaces and outdoor seating are sufficient in number, well-maintained and safe.

  • ​​​(AF) Undercover areas in parks are provided to ensure accessibility in all weather conditions.

  • ​​​(AF) Places to sit and rest are provided.

  • ​​​(AF) Sidewalks are non-slip, well-maintained, free of obstructions and reserved for pedestrians.

  • ​​​(AF) Sidewalks are wide enough for wheelchairs and have curb cuts to the road level.

  • (DF) Level changes are clearly marked and well-lit with handrails, and non-slip non-glare surfaces.

  • ​​​(AF) Pedestrian crossings are sufficient in number and safe for people of all abilities with visual and audio cues and adequate crossing times.

  • ​​​(AF) Cycle paths are separate from pedestrian walkways.

  • ​​​(AF) Outdoor safety is promoted by good street lighting, police patrols and community education.

  • ​​​(AF) Drivers give way to pedestrians at intersections and pedestrian crossings.

  • ​​​(AF) Buildings are well-signed inside and out, with sufficient seating, toilets, accessible elevators, ramps, railings, stairs, and non-slip floors.

  • (DF) Building entrances are clearly visible and obvious.

  • ​​​(DF) Visual landmarks are in place to assist wayfinding, such as garden beds, murals, water fountains, public art.

  • (DF) Signs have large graphics and symbols in clear color contrast to the background, preferably dark lettering on a light background.

  • (DF) Signs have non-glare lighting and non-reflective coverings.

  • ​​​(AF) Indoor and outdoor public toilets are sufficient in number, clean, well-maintained and accessible.

  • ​​​(AF) There are sufficient and accessible burial sites.

  • (DF & AF)* Please adapt these activities to be accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive of all members of your community.

(AF)* = Age-Friendly  (DF)* = Dementia Friendly  (AF & DF)* = Age- and Dementia Friendly 

3. Housing

Housing Policy & Planning

  • (AF)* Sufficient, affordable housing is available in areas that are safe and close to services and the rest of the community.               
  • (AF) Sufficient housing is close to public transportation (bus, light rail, etc.). 
  • (AF) Sufficient and affordable home maintenance and support services are available.              
  • (AF) Housing is well-constructed and provides safe and comfortable shelter from the weather.          
  • (AF) Interior spaces and level surfaces allow freedom of movement in rooms and passageways.  
  • (AF) Home modification options and supplies are available and affordable, and providers understand the needs of older people.               
  • (AF) Public and commercial rental housing is clean, well-maintained and safe.             
  • (AF) Sufficient and affordable housing is available for frail and older adults with disabilities with appropriate services provided locally.              
  • (AF) Corridors enable those less ambulant and wheelchair users to safely pass oncoming people.               
  • (AF) A sufficient number of accessory dwelling units (e.g., in-law apartments) are available. 
  • (AF & DF)* Please adapt these activities to be accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive of all members of your community.   

Home Design & Modifications

  • (AF) Steps are clearly marked and lit, with guard and handrails on both sides, smooth, nonslip, non-glare surfaces, and nearby seating.
  • (AF) Doors have lever-type handles.         
  • (AF) Alarms/sirens/auditory cues on low frequency and at suitable pitch for people with low hearing acuity.
  • (DF)* Sound absorbing materials (acoustic ceiling tiles, wall hangings, upholstery and curtain fabrics) used where possible.               
  • (DF) Designated quiet spaces are available.  
  • (DF) Simple signage with clear and essential information only fixed to walls at eye level (around 4 feet above floor level where possible).              
  • (DF) Well-maintained, plain, smooth, level, non-slip, non-reflective floor coverings. 
  • (DF) Simple layout with short, direct routes and places to sit; no blind corners where possible.
  • (DF) Changes in texture or color of floor coverings to indicate potential hazards          
  • (DF) Color contrast toilet seats with toilet bowls and floor and uniform signage for male and female toilets where applicable.   
  • (DF) Furniture and furnishings contrasted against walls for easy visibility and furniture has rounded edges to reduce bumps and grazes.         
  • (DF) Indirect lighting for good illumination without glare or areas of deep shadows.                 

(AF)* = Age-Friendly  (DF)* = Dementia Friendly  (AF & DF)* = Age- and Dementia Friendly

4. Social Inclusion and Participation

  • (AF)* A wide variety of events and activities are available that appeal to the diverse interests of older adults.
  • (AF) Gatherings are held in various locations, such as recreation centers, schools, libraries, community centers and parks.   
  • (AF) Community-wide settings, activities and events attract all generations by accommodating age-specific needs and preferences.     
  • (AF) Older adults are specifically included in community activities for families.             
  • (AF) Schools provide opportunities to learn about aging and older adults, and involve older adults in school activities.      
  • (AF) Social events and activities are affordable for older adults who are financially disadvantaged.
  • (AF) Information about events includes details about accessibility and transportation options for older adults. 
  • (AF) Venues for events and activities are conveniently located, accessible, well-lit and easily reached by public transportation.              
  • (AF & DF)* People at risk of social isolation, including culturally and linguistically diverse persons, LGBTQ persons, and people living with dementia are consistently included in outreach about community events.        
  • (AF & DF) Older adults and people living with dementia are recognized by the community for their past as well as their present contributions.  
  • (AF & DF) Community events are held at times convenient for older people and people living with dementia.        
  • (AF & DF) Community events can be attended either alone or with a care partner.  
  • (AF & DF) Social engagement opportunities are available through telephone or visiting volunteers/companions.   
  • (AF & DF) Older adults and people living with dementia are recognized by the community for their past as well as present contributions.       
  • (DF)* Libraries and faith communities have access to resources on how to be dementia friendly.          
  • (DF) Dementia awareness activities and events are held to increase community knowledge and understanding of dementia.    
  • (DF) Schools provide opportunities for students to learn about dementia.                
  • (DF) Community activities include dementia-specific activities and mainstream activities that are supportive of people living with dementia.    
  • (DF) Activities are available for people with dementia who are living outside a formal care setting (e.g., adult day programs, creative arts/music, memory cafés, intergenerational connections, outings.)
  • (DF) Community organizations are aware of the needs of families affected by dementia.       
  • (DF) Local support groups for people living with dementia, their care partners, and families are available.
  • (DF) People living with dementia acknowledge their positive contribution and maintain and form new relationships and social networks.              
  • (AF & DF) Please adapt these activities to be accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive of all members of your community.    

(AF)* = Age-Friendly  (DF)* = Dementia Friendly  (AF & DF)* = Age- and Dementia Friendly            

5. Transportation

  • (AF)* Individual and group transportation options are available, affordable and accessible: 
    • Volunteer-based            
    • Public Transportation     
    • Commercial (Taxis, Uber/Lyft, Shuttle).
    • Other non-profit (councils on aging, other)           
  • (DF)* Transportation escorts are available to help passengers living with dementia use public transportation.      
  • (DF) Transportation drivers are trained to be sensitive to riders living with dementia and know how to help them. People with dementia are not required to handle money and their care partners travel for free.       
  • (DF) Transportation services for people living with dementia are well-advertised and promoted as supportive.      
  • (DF) Transportation services provide schedule reminders and help at destinations.      
  • (DF) Care partners have help and support addressing driving cessation for persons living with dementia.
  • (AF) Drivers for individuals and groups are courteous and helpful.
  • (AF) Public transportation costs are consistent, clearly displayed and affordable with reliable and frequent service, including nights, weekends and holidays.               
  • (AF) All areas and services are accessible by public transportation, with good connections and well-marked routes and vehicles.             
  • (AF) Vehicles are clean, well maintained, accessible and not overcrowded; priority seating is available and respected.
  • (AF) Specialized transportation is available for people living with disabilities. 
  • (AF) Drivers stop at designated stops beside the curb to facilitate boarding and wait for passengers to be seated before driving off.           
  • (AF) Stops and stations are conveniently located, accessible, safe, clean, well lit and well marked with adequate seating and shelter.       
  • (AF) Parking and drop-off areas are safe, sufficient in number and conveniently located.        
  • (AF) Priority parking and drop-off spots for people with special needs are available and respected.   
  • (AF) Complete and accessible information is provided to users about routes, schedules and accommodations for special needs. 
  • (AF) A voluntary transportation service is available where public transportation is too limited.              
  • (AF) Roads are well maintained, well lit and free of obstructions that may block drivers’ vision.    
  • (AF) Traffic flow is well regulated.     
  • (AF) Traffic signs and intersections are visible and well-placed.            
  • (AF & DF)* Please adapt these activities to be accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive of all members of your community.                

(AF)* = Age-Friendly  (DF)* = Dementia Friendly  (AF & DF)* = Age- and Dementia Friendly

6. Civic Participation and Employment

  • (AF)* The qualities of older employees are well promoted and recognized.     
  • (AF) A range of flexible options for older volunteers is available, with training, recognition, guidance and compensation for personal costs.          
  • (AF) A range of flexible and appropriately paid opportunities for older adults is provided and promoted.        
  • (AF) Discrimination on the basis of age alone is forbidden in the hiring, retention, promotion and training of employees.               
  • (AF) Workplaces are adapted to meet the needs of older adults of all abilities.            
  • (AF) Self-employment options for older adults are promoted and supported.             
  • (AF) Training in post-retirement options is provided for older workers.           
  • (AF) Decision-making bodies in public, private and voluntary sectors encourage and facilitate membership of older adults. 
  • (DF)* Training and education opportunities for people with dementia are provided and promoted.     
  • (DF) Volunteer and paid employment opportunities have disability support services available for people living with dementia.          
  • (DF) Flexible and appropriately paid opportunities are provided and promoted for people living with dementia.         
  • (DF) Decision-making bodies in public, private and voluntary sectors encourage and facilitate membership of people living with dementia.     
  • (DF) Qualities of people living with dementia who are employed are well promoted and recognized.               
  • (DF) Employment programs to support people living with dementia are provided and promoted.      
  • (DF) Workplaces are adapted to meet the needs of people living with dementia.       
  • (DF) People living with dementia are encouraged to speak and participate in conferences and local events about dementia.  
  • (DF) Adequate support is provided by education/training institutions to people living with dementia who are undertaking further study.         
  • (DF) People living with dementia are consulted on how they can best be supported in the workplace and by education/ training institutions.       
  • (DF) Flexible volunteer options for people with dementia are available with guidance, recognition and compensation for personal costs. 
  • (AF & DF)* Please adapt these activities to be accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive of all members of your community.

(AF)* = Age-Friendly  (DF)* = Dementia Friendly  (AF & DF)* = Age- and Dementia Friendly

7. Communication and Information

  • (AF)* Staff at consumer-facing organizations provide friendly, helpful, person-to-person information and services to older adults.      
  • (DF)* Staff at consumer-facing organizations learn about  how to communicate with and serve customers with dementia.               
  • (AF) Community-related information is distributed widely on a regular basis to residents of all ages.           
  • (AF) Regular, accessible information and broadcasts of interest to older adults are available, including health and social services for older adults.
  • (DF) Information is available about dementia and supports and services for families affected by dementia.
  • (AF) People at risk of social isolation get one-on-one information from trusted individuals.   
  • (AF) Printed information on all types of visual displays have large lettering and main ideas are shown in clear headings and bold-face type.       
  • (AF) Print and spoken communication include simple, familiar words in short, straight-forward sentences.         
  • (AF) Electronic services such as ATMs provide clear instructions and ample time for consumers to complete their transactions.     
  • (AF) Telephone answering services give instructions slowly and clearly and tell callers how to repeat the message at any time.    
  • (AF) Public access to computers and the Internet are available in public spaces such as libraries at no or minimal charge.               
  • (AF) Older adults are visible in the media, and are depicted positively and without stereotyping.              
  • (DF) Communication and information is relayed in a manner that breaks down the stigma of dementia.      
  • (DF) Dementia-focused information programs, such as Dementia Friends, leverage the broader community in reducing stigma.     
  • (AF& DF) Older adults and people living with dementia are regularly consulted on how to serve them better.          
  • (AF & DF)* Please adapt these activities to be accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive of all members of your community.    

(AF)* = Age-Friendly  (DF)* = Dementia Friendly  (AF & DF)* = Age- and Dementia Friendly            

8. Services (Business, Health, Community)

  • (AF&DF)* Businesses treat customers of all ages with respect and dignity, including those living with dementia and their care partners.
  • (DF)* Business staff are trained in how to be responsive to the needs of customers living with dementia and their care partners.
  • (AF) Advanced planning and legal services are available for older adults.                
  • (DF) Advanced planning and legal services with specialized knowledge of dementia is available.             
  • (DF) Local banks have proactive procedures and guidelines to address financial challenges of people living with dementia.         
  • (AF) An adequate range of health and community support services is offered for promoting, maintaining and restoring health. 
  • (AF) Home care services include health and personal care and housekeeping.             
  • (AF) Health and social services are conveniently located and accessible by all means of transportation.      
  • (AF) Residential care facilities and designated housing for older adults are located close to services and the rest of the community.       
  • (AF) Health and community service facilities are safely constructed and fully accessible.         
  • (AF) Delivery of community and health services is coordinated and administratively simple.  
  • (AF) All community and health service staff are respectful, helpful and trained to serve older adults.
  • (AF) Economic barriers impeding access to health and community support services are minimized.   
  • (DF) Physicians share Alzheimer’s diagnosis & treatment plan with family member or legal representative as per ch.220 §5 (MA Acts 2018).         
  • (DF) Hospitals have operational plan for recognizing and managing individuals living with dementia as per ch.220 §8 (MA Acts 2018).      
  • (AF) Voluntary support services for older adults are encouraged and supported.             
  • (AF& DF) Physical activity programs are available for older adults including people living with dementia.   
  • (AF & DF) Tai Chi, yoga, Matter of Balance programs are available for older adults including people living with dementia.   
  • (DF) Healthcare and home care providers have access to decision support tools for cognitive impairment/dementia.               
  • (DF) Healthcare and home care providers have standard practices for further assessment when cognitive impairment is identified.          
  • The following services are available, appropriate and promoted for older adults including people living with dementia:      
    • (AF&DF) Care Managers/Care Coordinators     
    • (AF&DF) Chore services (e.g. laundry, mowing)  
    • (AF&DF) Home safety assessment/fall prevention            
    • (AF&DF) Grocery and pharmacy delivery          
    • (AF&DF) Meal delivery (e.g., Meals on Wheels)  
    • (AF&DF) Medication management            
    • (AF&DF) Personal Care Assistant/Home Health Aide         
    • (AF&DF) Remote location/safety monitoring programs   
    • (AF&DF) Transportation assistance           
  • The following services are available, appropriate and promoted for families caring for older adults including families affected by dementia:    
    • (AF&DF) Family counseling, family meetings         
    • (AF&DF) Support groups for families        
    • (AF&DF) Mentoring programs     
    • (AF&DF) Caregiver coaching         
    • (AF&DF) Care consultation            
    • (AF&DF) Adult day programs       
    • (AF&DF) Emergency or crisis respite         
    • (AF&DF) Extended respite            
    • (AF&DF) Overnight or weekend respite  
    • (AF&DF) In-home respite              
  • Health care organizations provide education and training to direct care workers on the following topics:           
    • (DF) Treatment and management of Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.
    • (DF) Supporting family caregivers of people living with dementia.        
  • (AF & DF) Please adapt these activities to be accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive of all members of your community.     

(AF)* = Age-Friendly  (DF)* = Dementia Friendly  (AF & DF)* = Age- and Dementia Friendly           

9. Public Safety

  • (AF)* Community emergency planning takes into account the vulnerabilities and capacities of older adult residents.   
  • (AF) Emergency planning and response are coordinated among state and local emergency management offices and aging services network.              
  • (DF)* Community planning considers safety, security, and needs of residents with dementia in disaster planning and emergency response.   
  • (DF) Police department has a registry of people at risk of wandering, or who may need help in the event of a disaster.               
  • (DF) First responders are trained in dementia and police officers are trained in Silver Alert.   
  • (DF) People living with dementia and their care partners are included in the development of local emergency plans.
  • (DF) Specialized education on disaster preparedness is available for people with dementia and their care partners/families.           
  • (DF) Elder protective services caseworkers are trained on cognitive impairments as per ch.220 §2 (MA Acts 2018).     
  • (AF) Legal services are available for older adults.        
  • (DF) Legal services are available with specialized knowledge of the circumstances of people living with dementia.     
  • (AF) Driver education and refresher courses are promoted for all drivers.      
  • (AF & DF)* Please adapt these activities to be accessible, equitable, and culturally inclusive of all members of your community.    

(AF)* = Age-Friendly  (DF)* = Dementia Friendly  (AF & DF)* = Age- and Dementia Friendly            

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