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Learn more about this toolkit

Information about this toolkit and age- and dementia friendly integration

Table of Contents

New to this process? Start here.

Community efforts to become age-friendly or dementia friendly stem from two separate movements. However, when communities take steps to integrate the work of both movements, they can reduce duplicated efforts, avoid confusion, save resources, and allow each movement to strengthen and support each other. Download this guide to view the recommended steps to becoming age- and dementia friendly. 

What is the purpose of this toolkit?

This toolkit is designed to simplify your work to integrate your age- and dementia friendly activity.  It consolidates and directs you to a wealth of available information from many valuable sources.  For example, it provides online links to guidance on how to be age- and dementia friendly as well as specific examples of activities to consider; all of which are categorized by topic for easy access.  The toolkit is designed for anyone helping to make their community more age- and dementia friendly.

Why was this toolkit developed?

This toolkit was developed to help communities participate in the age- and dementia friendly movements together. It helps communities navigate and integrate each movement’s guidance and tools. For example, each movement has a specific set of guidance presented within its own unique framework: the age-friendly movement’s 8 “Domains of Livability;” and the dementia friendly movement’s 11-sector approach. For this reason, some communities have focused on only one movement rather than both.  However, many communities are committed to making themselves welcoming to all of their residents, regardless of age or ability.  Integrating age- and dementia friendly work can help make that commitment a reality. This toolkit was developed to make it easier.

How do I navigate this toolkit?

For communities that are new to both the age- and dementia friendly movements, review the first section on this page entitled: "New to this process? Start here."

For easy access to information about age- and dementia friendly activities, review the section: "View resources by focus area." 

If you are currently working to make your community age-friendly, it is essential that special consideration be given to people living with dementia. For information about dementia friendly activities organized by age-friendly domain, select the section: "Integrate dementia friendly activity into your age-friendly work." 

If you are currently working to make your community dementia friendly, please consider activities that benefit people of all ages and abilities. For information about age-friendly activities organized by dementia friendly sector, select the section: "Integrate age-friendly activity into your dementia friendly work." 

Who developed this toolkit?

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) formed a team to help simplify age- and dementia friendly integration, including: Caitlin Coyle: UMass Boston Gerontology Institute, James Fuccione: Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, Vaira Harik: Barnstable County Department of Human Services, Pam MacLeod: EOEA, Jan Mutchler: UMass Boston Gerontology Institute, Amy Walsh: EOEA, and Antron Watson: AARP Massachusetts.

Why should my community consider engaging in both the age- and dementia friendly movements?

When a community implements both age- and dementia friendly activities, it commits to the needs of all of its residents as they age. Communities that engage in both movements are able to address: (1) the specific needs of individuals and families affected by dementia; and (2) the broader needs of all residents, regardless of age or ability.

Why should I integrate age- and dementia friendly activity?

The age- and dementia friendly movements both recognize that community participation is essential for personal and community well-being and important to all residents regardless of age or ability.  In light of this common perspective, integrating age- and dementia friendly activity can greatly reduce duplicated efforts, save time, avoid confusion, save money, and allow each movement to strengthen and support each other.  For related information, see Better Together: A Comparative Analysis of Age-Friendly and Dementia Friendly Communities.

What does it mean to integrate age- and dementia friendly activity?

Each community is unique, so there is more than one approach to integrating age- and dementia friendly activity. Each community must tailor its approach to meet its specific needs. Regardless of the approach, integration requires coordination and/or collaboration among participants of both movements in terms of planning, decision-making and communication. The approach should also be flexible enough to easily adapt when the community’s needs, priorities and resources change. 

Some communities engage in the two movements separately with staff who align and coordinate plans and activities. Other communities blend their age- and dementia friendly work to ensure that the benefits of both are achieved.  Some communities involve both age- and dementia friendly stakeholders in their planning; engage in activities around one of the movements; and after building momentum, launch the other. Others may choose to vary their integration approach by area of focus. What works best depends on the community’s needs, interests, priorities, and resources.

What is an age-friendly community?

An age-friendly community enables people of all ages to actively participate in community life and treats all of us with respect, regardless of our age.  It is a place that makes it easy for us to stay connected to people that are important to us as we age. An age-friendly community helps us stay healthy and active even at our most advanced ages and provides appropriate support when we need it.

What is a dementia friendly community?

A dementia friendly community is a place where people living with dementia are understood, respected, included, and supported in community life. In a dementia friendly community, people living with dementia and those who are close to them can have a good quality of life despite the challenges of dementia.

What does it mean to be an age-friendly state?

In January 2018, Massachusetts became the second state in the nation to become an Age-Friendly state by joining the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and the World Health Organization Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. This designation means that Massachusetts state government is committed to advancing age- and dementia friendly communities throughout the state by promoting policies and practices that are inclusive, relevant, and enhance the quality of life for people of all ages and abilities. 

Who is participating in the age- and dementia friendly movements in Massachusetts?

More than 200 cities and towns in Massachusetts are working to become more age- and/or dementia friendly.  In Massachusetts, individuals of all ages and abilities are involved in planning and implementing community-wide age- and dementia friendly initiatives.  Numerous types of organizations are participating, including government agencies, businesses, non-profit agencies, philanthropic organizations, and health and educational institutions. Additionally, throughout the Commonwealth, there are organizations collaborating to help spread age- and dementia friendly activity at the state and local level.  Those collaborators include the Governor’s Council on Aging in Massachusetts, AARP-Massachusetts, Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging, Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Dementia Friendly Massachusetts, Alzheimer's Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, state and local government agencies, and others.

What is Dementia Friendly Massachusetts?

Dementia Friendly Massachusetts is part of Dementia Friendly America’s nationwide grassroots movement to make our communities safe, inclusive and respectful for persons living with dementia. Since its launch in May of 2016, Dementia Friendly Massachusetts has engaged communities at all stages in dementia- and age-friendly work.  A solid infrastructure, led by the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging, fosters learning, collaboration, efficiency, inclusion, and targeted integration of age- and dementia friendly activity.

What is Dementia Friends Massachusetts?

Dementia Friends Massachusetts, which is closely affiliated with Dementia Friendly Massachusetts, is part of the Dementia Friends USA grassroots movement.  It aims to change the way people think, act, and talk about dementia. There are over 2,500 Dementia Friends across Massachusetts, including adults, teens, and grade school students. One-hour Dementia Friends information sessions have been facilitated across the Commonwealth in Spanish, English, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Portuguese and Mandarin.

What is dementia?

Dementia is more common in older adults, but it is not a part of normal aging and many adults do not develop dementia as they age.  Dementia is a not a specific disease. It is a group of symptoms that can include: memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning and problem solving, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, trouble with visual/spatial perception, new problems with words in speaking or writing, changes in sensory and depth perception, decreased or poor judgement, withdrawal from work or social activities, and changes in mood, personality or behavior. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia. Other causes include Lewy Body Dementia, Frontotemporal Degeneration, Parkinson’s, Traumatic Brain Injury, and many others.

What does it mean to join the Age-Friendly Network?

When cities and towns join the Age-Friendly Network, it means that the community’s elected leadership has made the commitment to actively work toward making their community a great place for people of all ages and abilities to live and thrive.

Who do I contact if I have questions or comments about this toolkit?

For questions, comments, or ideas on how to improve this toolkit, contact Pam MacLeod, Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs at pam.macleod@state.ma.us.

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