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West Valley suburb to create dementia friendly community

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PHOENIX — With more than 3,000 people dying from Alzheimer’s disease in Arizona in 2017, the state has the highest growth rate for Alzheimer’s disease in the country.

“The tsunami is here,” Lori Nisson with Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Banner Sun Health Research Institute told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday. “At least 150,000 Arizonans are living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.”

Nisson believes that number is far below how many people actually live with the disease because many cases go undiagnosed.

In hopes of better addressing the masses who will be impacted by dementia and Alzheimer’s, Surprise has worked to create Arizona’s second dementia friendly city.

In 2015, Tempe was named a dementia friendly community. The global movement taking a hold in Arizona works to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia.

“We have been privileged to help launch one of the first dementia friendly communities with Tempe and are thrilled to be able to expand that important work into Surprise with like-minded partners,” said Nisson.

“This effort will tangibly improve support and quality of life for people and families living with the Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.”

As a dementia friendly city, Surprise will partner with community experts in aging and memory illnesses like Alzheimer’s.

Organizations including Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, Benevilla, Sun Health Wellness and the Alzheimer’s Association will collaborate to provide a free Memory Café and community events geared toward educating the community to raise awareness of the disease, lower stigma and improve support for Northwest Valley families living with dementia.

“What the Memory Café really seeks to do is provide a safe place for people and families to come and be social, get connected, get resources, and really just enjoy a program in their community,” Nisson added.

Memory Cafés provide a social and resource place for people living with memory loss and their care partners. Caregivers participate in an educational and support session while people with memory loss actively participate in a cognitive engagement program.

The free sessions are scheduled from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of every month starting Oct. 8 at Salvation Army, 17420 North Avenue of the Arts in Surprise. A proclamation on Tuesday officially branded Surprise a dementia friendly community.

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