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SPRINGFIELD — The newly formed Springfield Dementia Friendly Coalition (SDFC) has been awarded a Dementia-Friendly Capacity Building Grant from the Massachusetts Council on Aging under a Service Incentive Grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

The Council on Aging grant will enable the coalition to hold focus-group meetings over the coming months with local government and public officials, first responders, and members of the business community to make them aware of the issues facing individuals living with dementia, their friends, family, and care partners, to give an overview of the movement and elicit their thoughts and engagement in the initiative. In addition, the group will meet with those living with dementia and their care partners and expand the Dementia Friendly website, www.dementiafriendlycommunities.org.

The coalition chair, Synthia Scott-Mitchell from Springfield Partners for Community Action, noted that “a dementia-friendly community is defined as one that is informed, safe, and respectful of individuals with dementia and their families, and provides supportive options for improved quality of life.”

An estimated 5.7 million Americans ages 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Nearly 60% of people with dementia live in their own communities, and one in seven live alone, creating an urgent need for communities to support people with dementia and their caregivers.

SDFC partners include the Springfield Department of Elder Affairs/Council on Aging, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Greater Springfield Senior Services, the Alzheimer’s Assoc., Silver Life Care at Home, Chapin Center, El Grupo de Apoyo, and Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing.

A calendar of upcoming events is available at www.dementiafriendlycommunities.org. For more information or to get involved, contact Scott-Mitchell at (413) 263-6500, ext. 6518, or [email protected], or Carol Constant at (413) 588-5184 or [email protected].