What is a Dementia Friendly Library?
An important part of a dementia friendly community
A Dementia Friendly Library in Wisconsin
Journalist Sara Tischauser interviewed Ellsworth Public Library Director Tiffany Meyer about a new program to help carers and friends spend quality time loved ones with dementia. The results of that interview appeared in a recent Pierce County Herald (March 14, 2018).
With funding from the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Pierce County the Wisconsin library created kits designed specifically to aid in the caring process. Meyer explained the reasoning behind the program:
“One struggle with dementia can be for friends and family members to figure out how to continue having meaningful interactions with a loved one who is experiencing dementia. The kits were designed with caregivers in mind, they have also been used successfully by folks going to visit a friend or family member with dementia.”
Caregiver Kits Useful
The program is in its early stages, but patrons are already finding the caregiver kits useful. From the Herald article:
“We started checking out the caregiver kits for our grandparents, George and Elva Boyd, who live just outside of Ellsworth and no longer drive,” (library patron Kristina) Larson said. “The activities are perfect for them, and my kids love to join in on them too. We checked out the dog-themed one for our first kit and were impressed by how engaging and high-quality the materials were.”
Patrons check out the themed caregiver kits in the same way one would check out a book or any other material from the library. Each kit contains a number of activities selected specifically for adults with dementia, memory disorders, or other cognitive issues.
“Many of the items in the kits were purchased from Best Alzheimer’s Products’ website,” Meyer said. “These kits have the potential to help many people.”
According to national figures, the prevalence of dementia in adults (over 18 years) in the US is somewhat more than 2%. This makes it easy to approximate how many of your potential patrons have dementia
Dementia Friendly America
Best Alzheimer’s Products applauds the efforts of Tiffany Meyer and the Ellsworth Public Library. We understand the need of programs like this to support our aging community. In fact, we often witness the benefits such efforts afford. Best Alzheimer’s Products is part of a worldwide Dementia Friendly movement that is sweeping the nation. The goals of this global movement include erasing the social stigma associated with dementia by raising awareness. The organization Dementia Friendly America defines its mission as follows:
Dementia Friendly America is a national network of communities, organizations and individuals seeking to ensure that communities across the U.S. are equipped to support people living with dementia and their caregivers. Dementia friendly communities foster the ability of people living with dementia to remain in community and engage and thrive in day to day living.
A dementia friendly library can be an influential and valuable part of creating a community that is supportive to people living with dementia, including care providers.
The library can be the center of a dementia friendly community
There is still some confusion between “Alzheimer’s” and “dementia”. People often use the two terms interchangeably. Dementia is a neurological condition that interferes with accomplishing everyday tasks and activities. Alzheimer’s is one of more than one hundred different causes of dementia. It is probably the most common; hence the confusion. Other causes include head trauma, stroke, and diseases similar to Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is sometimes called a memory disorder. People with Alzheimer’s disease are often referred to as having memory loss. Memory problems are a part of most types of dementia, but memory is only part of it. Dementia generally affects other cognitive processes as well, including language and comprehension, perception, and spatial memory and navigation. Dementia can also affect executive functioning like reasoning, planning, and inhibitory control. As dementia progresses an individual will lose the ability to care for himself or herself.
Furthermore, there are behavioral and psychological manifestations that accompany dementia. These can be disconcerting, even frightening. Symptoms of dementia include confusion, agitation, or even aggression. Very often these behaviors are attempts to communicate by someone who is losing the ability to communicate.
These characteristics of dementia can make it challenging to work with affected persons. If you are considering creating a dementia friendly program it is important to learn as much as possible about the special needs and behaviors that you and your staff may encounter.
We created a flip-book/brochure specifically to showcase some of the packages we have created for libraries. To share the brochure with your colleagues use the address https://best-alzheimers-products.com/brochures/dementia-friendly-library/index.html. The brochure can be viewed full-screen by clicking in the center of the window below. Click Esc to return.
Creating a dementia friendly library
You can learn more from our website (www.best-alzheimers-products.com) and the Dementia Friendls USA website (http://www.dfamerica.org/)
A short infomative video for dementia friendly library from Dementia Friends USA
Some Basic Considerations
- Train library staff to recognize symptoms of dementia and ways to interact with people who have dementia.
- Ideally you have one or two staff members with a personal interest in dementia. These “specialists” can meet individually with patrons and care providers to learn about the program and help with material selection.
- Consider offering special programs or a program series to support community members who have dementia. Local music therapists and art therapists are excellent resources. Learn more about the benefits of these therapies:
- The dementia friendly library offers materials that are appropriate for people in the community who have dementia
- Train staff to understand the stage-appropriate & age-appropriate distinction and know how to address potential carer concerns about the appropriateness of certain activities.
- Find materials that reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of the community
- Consider delivering material to home-bound patrons
Design is Important
- A dementia friendly library is physically friendly for people with dementia. Dementia affects perception, navigation, and other abilities we take for granted, sometimes severely. There are ways to at least partially overcome these limitations:
- Provide lighting that is bright and even but not glaring. Shadows are confusing and may even be misinterpreted as doorways or even holes in the floor.
- Ensure that flooring is as even as possible in every way. There should be no tripping hazards, actual or perceived. Designs and patterns in rugs or other flooring look like objects to one who is perceptually impaired.
- Whenever possible use contrasting colors. Select furniture to contrast with walls and floors. Walls should contrast with floors.
- Restrooms should also offer plenty of contrast. A white toilet is lost against a white floor and wall.
- Signage aids navigation and can help avoid confusion and the resulting anxiety
- Learn more about the special needs of people with dementia including Alzheimer’s:
- Offer cultural and social programs in the library. These can provide a wonderful way to include otherwise disenfranchised individuals in the community.
- Art and music – Viewing art, including performance art, and listening to music are both highly therapeutic for people with dementia. Indeed, these activities are therapeutic for us all. Invite artists and musicians to showcase their talents. Creating art can be even more therapeutic. Art therapists and music therapist will help take your dementia friendly library to the next level.
- Memory Cafe — a safe place for people with dementia to socialize and spend quality time.
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Organizations & Affiliations
Purple Angel Ambassador
Dementia Friendly America
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WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
- Thanks, Appreciate that “extra effort”. Don’t seem to run into that much anymore… and that is a shame. I’m really looking forward to receiving the “toys” for my wife. I pray they will work as good as one of her caregivers told me they would. Ken