Dementia friendly Ventura County

VCAAA staff members Marleen Canniff, Christine Voth, Martin Marquez and Patti Jaeger.
VCAAA staff members Marleen Canniff, Christine Voth, Martin Marquez and Patti Jaeger.

by Phil Chandler, Owner of Right at Home of Ventura County, Home Care Agency

Have you seen someone who seemed confused when you are out running errands? Tasks that many of us take for granted, from finding groceries in the store, buying gas, and making a deposit at the bank can be challenging for someone with dementia. Many people with dementia are not diagnosed or deny that they have a problem.

To help the nation address the impact of the alarming nationwide increase of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related diseases, Dementia Friendly America® was created in 2015 through the White House Conference on Aging. It is a national multi-sector collaboration of six federal agencies and 50 plus partners including AARP and the Alzheimer’s Association. The program mirrors the successful Alzheimer’s Society dementia friendly program in England.

Dementia Friendly America® helps organizations, which have met specific criteria, to create a dementia friendly environment tailored to the needs and resources of the local community. Online tools, educational materials, templates and sector specific guides are provided to plan strategies, conduct needs assessments, identify issues, and engage the community, including service-oriented organizations, persons with dementia, and their caregivers. The result is to educate the public and to train persons in service sectors, such as cashiers, bus drivers, receptionists, etc. to recognize the signs of dementia and provide their service in a patient and compassionate manner.

The initial focus in Ventura County will be exploring what is needed to empower the Health Care Sector to become more dementia friendly, and other sectors will follow. The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA), was recently certified by Dementia Friendly America® to lead Dementia Friendly Ventura County.

“The agency is thrilled to be among the 80 communities certified nationwide to be a Dementia Friendly America® partner. It is timely given that at least given that at least 14,000 persons in Ventura County have the disease according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  “There is no treatment, no cure; it is 100 percent fatal. It is the fifth leading cause of death in California,” says Victoria Jump, Director of the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging.

The Dementia Friendly Ventura County Team Leader, Christine Voth, who is also VCAAA’s Manager of Business Strategy and Strategic Planning, has assembled a Dementia Friendly Ventura County leadership team. It includes persons from the Alzheimer’s Association, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Senior Concerns, Camarillo Health Care District, Health Care Agency, Elder Care Alliance, Alma Via, Right at Home, Coast Caregiver Resource Center, Oxnard Family Circle, persons with dementia, their caregivers and more. “We have begun with the Health Care Sector and are making plans to address other community sectors. The leadership team will evolve as we address other sectors,” says Voth.

Keep an eye on this column for future developments. For more information on the national program, go to www.dfamerica.org.  For more information on Dementia Friendly Ventura County, call Christine Voth at 477-7305 or Phil Chandler at 389-5320.

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