Heritage Homes, Watertown, Wis., a senior living facility that is part of The Lutheran Home Association, Belle Plaine, Minn., is leading the charge to make the community of Watertown dementia friendly.
“A dementia-friendly city is one where the community is aware that there are members who have problems with memory, and because of these problems with memory, what can [the businesses] do to keep them a vital part of the community,” says Jan Zimmerman, administrator and director of nursing at Heritage Homes.
Simple steps range from how restaurant orders are taken to bank employees recognizing signs of financial abuse. Zimmerman noted that while her initial focus is dementia, many of the techniques will also benefit people in the community with other forms of cognitive impairments.
Zimmerman says that by educating community businesses about how to better serve people with dementia, “we hope they won’t be staying at home as much because they’ll have the opportunity to go out and feel accepted and feel like if they need help there are people out there who will help them and not look down on them.”
The idea started in the fall of 2013 and quickly took off. In a few short months nine area businesses pledged to become dementia friendly and did employee training. In addition, the coalition is working with the local police and fire departments. Dementia-friendly businesses receive a purple angel sign to display, so patrons know it is a safe and comfortable place for people with memory loss to visit.
The program’s reach is extending beyond Watertown too. Zimmerman says she’s received calls from people all over the country asking how they can implement the program in their community or organization.
“We are proud of Jan Zimmerman and our entire team at Heritage Homes,” says Michael Klatt, president and CEO of The Lutheran Home Association. “We are looking forward to growing our memory care services and campus in the future. It is exciting to see the Watertown community be a part of this historic community initiative. As a leader of senior services, we are honored to have inspired residents, family members, team members, community members, donors, and volunteers engaged to advance our Christian ministry.”
Zimmerman says, “Christ has served us, and we feel like this is a way we can serve the community.”
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Volume 101, Number 3
Issue: March 2014
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