Holyoke becoming “Dementia-Friendly” community

Program aims to educate first responders, businesses

downtown holyoke dementia

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease is growing fast, but one local community is taking action to raise awareness of this disease.

Alzheimer’s is one of the most common forms of dementia, and the City of Holyoke wants its residents to better understand the problem.

Tuesday, a campaign was announced at Holyoke City Hall to make the city a dementia-friendly community. Mayor Alex Morse, along with the Holyoke Council on Aging, led a news conference discussing this new city project.

The project’s components include more educational programs for first responders and businesses on dementia. It will also demonstrate tips on how to effectively interact with individuals living with dementia.

“There still seems to be kind of a stigma families feel, and they feel kind of ashamed because peoples’ behavior does change, and it’s difficult to understand these behavioral changes,” Rachael Tierney of South Hadley said.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds. More than five million Americans 65 or older are living with Alzheimer’s, and nearly two-thirds of them are women.

Within the next 10 years, 19 states will see a 40% or greater growth in those with Alzheimer’s.