The Dementia Friendly Massachusetts Initiative (DFMI) is a statewide effort to spark and support dementia friendly systems and grassroots programs across Massachusetts. A "dementia friendly community" is informed, safe, and respectful and enables people living with Alzheimer's or a related neurocognitive disorder, and those who care about them, to live full, engaged lives. Our goal is to help all communities in the Commonwealth to become more dementia friendly.
The Connection Newsletter
Spring has arrived and we welcome you to the third issue of the Connection! In this issue, we continue to share resources and celebrate your efforts to grow dementia friendly communities throughout Massachusetts.

Please to your colleagues and lists. We continue to welcome your feedback and suggestions for further developing the newsletter, including examples of how it has impacted your work.

The deadline for submissions for the next issue of the Connection is Friday, June 30. This newsletter is meant to share ongoing and replicable models. In the interest of keeping the newsletter a brief, easy-read, we cannot accept one-time and time-sensitive events. Click here to submit your news today.
May 2017 Edition
Spotlight on Training and Community Education
Tools and Resources
Media Connections
News Flashes from Around the State
Spotlight on Memory Cafés
Articles and News from Around the World
Spotlight on Innovation SuccessStories

Nature Connection: Animal and Nature Therapy
The Nature Connection is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts that delivers live therapy animals and natural materials to elders in institutional settings, many with dementia or Alzheimer's. By recreating natural habitats indoors, Nature Connection engages the senses and offers hands-on exploration for individuals who have little access to the outdoors. They have served assisted living residences, day habilitation programs, and memory support programs throughout Greater Boston since 1983. Programs for elders with dementia focus on reducing anxiety, diminishing feelings of isolation, and rekindling memories through nature's healing power. 

Visit their website to learn more.

Purple Tables Dinner Reservations 
Going out to lunch or dinner at a restaurant should be a lovely and relaxing experience. Purple Table reservations are designed for those who may have memory impairment, a hearing or vision impairment, autism, PTSD, or anything else that may require special accommodations. When you request a Purple Table via an online reservation system or when you call, the restaurant knows that your party needs a quieter spot, a little extra patience, and a little more love from your server to make your experience as stress free and enjoyable as possible. Jenifer Apazidis, owner of the Red Raven restaurant and the creator of Purple Table reservations, hopes that other restaurants will follow their lead to help make dining out an enjoyable and stress free experience for all.

Visit their website to learn more about this new program. If you want more information or would like to implement Purple Table reservations at your restaurant, please contact Jenifer.

Dementia Friendly Health Tech and Nursing School
Assabet Valley Regional Technical School's health technology students and practical nursing students partnered on a project to make Assabet Valley Regional Technical School the first dementia friendly school. Many school departments serve older adults in their shops and many students graduate as trade people who will enter homes in the community. These students have participated in a training program from the Alzheimer's Association and have had clinical experience working with individuals with dementia and Alzheimer's. They will use their expertise and understanding to help educate other students in the school about the problems of living with dementia and to identify strategies to support persons with dementia they may encounter in their work. While in the planning stages now, the goal is to complete school-wide sessions before summer.

For more information, contact Ellen Santos at or 508-485-9430 x2881. 
Spotlight on Training and Community Education TrainingCommunityEd

June is Alzheimer's Brain Awareness Month
The Alzheimer's Association encourages your community to do something to recognize June as Alzheimer's Brain Awareness Month and help raise awareness about the impact of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in your community. There's so much you can do: paint the town purple, participate in "The Longest Day" event, host an Alzheimer's Association Education program, or outreach to local businesses in your community with Dementia Friendly packets.

For more information, visit the Alzheimer's Association website or fill out this form to join this exciting effort!

New Caregiver Support Group in Wareham
Hope Dementia and Alzheimer's Services and Wareham Council On Aging presented a free three-part workshop for new caregivers at the Wareham Multi Service Center to learn about disease progression, managing behaviors, and communication strategies. Starting in May, an open and ongoing support group for caregivers will be offered free of charge on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. This group will provide an opportunity for caregivers affected by Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia to share their experiences and receive information, guidance, and support regarding care planning strategies. These new resources are the latest additions to the wide range of services provided by Hope Dementia and Alzheimer's Services.

For more information or to register for the support group, email or call 508-775 5656.
Tools and Resources ToolsAndResources

Memory Café Toolkit en Español
JF&CS and MCOA announce the availability of the free Memory Café Toolkit in Spanish, available to download online. The Memory Café Toolkit includes a description of Aroma de Café, Massachusetts' first Spanish-speaking memory café, at the Lawrence Council on Aging.

Visit to download the Memory Café Toolkit in English. 

Barnstable Website
Barnstable County Department of Human Services' Behavioral Health website is a resource for individuals, families, and agencies with behavioral health questions or concerns. The site provides information about behavioral health services in Cape Cod, including a robust local service directory. Throughout the site you'll learn more about key health topics, current legislation, and organizations that provide assistance to Barnstable County residents.

Email or visit the website for more information.

Two Resources for Healthcare Decision-Making
Honoring Choices created the "Getting Started Tool Kit" - everything needed to appoint a health care agent in a health care proxy and give your agent and family instructions about the care you want in a personal directive. The kit also includes a handy discussion guide to talk with your doctors and care providers to match quality care to your goals, values, and choices.

You can download flyers, posters, and the tool kit online.

The Conversation Project has developed a free Conversation Starter Kit designed to support people who love someone who has Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. Individuals and families can use the guide to reflect on how their loved one would want to be cared for in the event they could no longer make those decisions for themselves.

To bring this special Starter Kit to staff or families as a small group workshop, please download the free guide on their website. The Starter Kits can also be co-branded with your organization's name. Email and ask for a branding template to use when printing the kits out for distribution.

Consider tapping colleges and high schools for interns! Makenzie Plasse, for example, is a Holyoke Community College Foundations of Health intern with the Dementia Friendly Communities Coalition in the Pioneer Valley. Her many talents are being put to use 10 hours a week making connections in the community and tracking down the ways that social workers engage in agencies that serve older adults.

Volunteers play an invaluable role in successful dementia friendly communities. Be sure to acknowledge their efforts, offering them the recognition and affirmation they deserve! For example, the Elvira Whiting Ball Award for Improving the Lives of Older Adults 2017 was recently awarded to outstanding volunteer, Rachel E. Tierney, by Loomis Communities, a champion organization of dementia friendly efforts in the Pioneer Valley. 
Media Connections MediaConnectsions

Watch and Share a New Video: Always a Dancer
The new and engaging video, Always a Dancer, produced by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and found on the DFMI website has been viewed nearly 1,000 times - a tremendous response given its release was only a few weeks ago. DFMI uses it in outreach presentations and are finding communities showing it at their local meetings as well.

Watch an Interview about Dementia Friendly Work in Western Mass
Check out an impressive interview aired on Western Massachusetts WWLP 22 News InFocus on March 5 with an engaging panel, including Doctor Rachel Broudy, Medical Director of the Mercy-Life adult care program; Rachel Tierney, a dementia awareness advocate whose husband had dementia; and Carol Constant, Director of Community Engagement for the Loomis Communities. The Holyoke and South Hadley Councils on Aging and Senior Centers, WestMass ElderCare, the Loomis Communities, and other agencies have been actively pursuing opportunities to share the inclusive message of the Dementia Friendly Communities movement and the news about the great work they've been doing, including holding trainings for first responders, faith communities, People's Bank, clubs, and organizations.

Visit the WWLP 22 News website to see the full interview.

Pilot of Opening Minds through Art in Brookline
Goddard House Assisted Living in Brookline is the first organization in Massachusetts to complete a pilot Opening Minds through Art (OMA), the award-winning art program for artists living with dementia. Watch their video to experience the first artists' opening reception produced by Claire Tran and Monique Avila for Brookline Interaction Group. Goddard House Assisted Living is thrilled to offer this program!

Two-Part Television Show about Dementia and Age-Friendly Work Across Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Lifespan Respite Coalition's (MLRC) cable television show, Caring for Others, Caring for Ourselves, is launching a two-part show highlighting dementia and age-friendly efforts across the state. Part one presents a panel discussion illustrating efforts in three Massachusetts towns. Part two depicts innovative and engaging activities across the state.

Visit their website to view both parts as well as previous shows related to caregiver support. The show is carried in more than 22 communities and three states. Help us spread the news about all the great work you are doing. Ask your local cable television station to carry it!
News Flashes from Around the State News

DFMI Virtual Learning Communities (LCs)
LCs continue to meet regularly on conference calls every other month, sharing resources, challenges, and opportunities and now include regional LCs from Central, Western, and Eastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands, as well one with faith communities. Consider joining!

Contact Emily Kearns, DFMI Coordinator, at for more information or to join a Learning Community.

Dementia Friends Massachusetts - Coming Soon!
Dementia Friends Massachusetts, a new public awareness program, is coming soon. Meanwhile, check out the Dementia Friends USA website to become a friend through quick and easy online training. Learn what you can do to support individuals living with Alzheimer's and other dementias in your community!

Contact Beth Soltzberg at for more information about Dementia Friends Massachusetts.

Dementia Friendly Kick-Off in Billerica
Billerica's Dementia Friendly Initiative kicked off on March 9 at Billerica Town Hall with more than 30 community members representing all sectors, including state representatives and selectmen. The Dementia Friendly Billerica Leadership Team will focus on determining sector leaders, building community partnerships and sponsorships, engaging leaders to assess current strengths and gaps in the community, and developing a dementia friendly registry to identify residents with dementia who may become lost or disoriented while out in the community.

Contact Jean Bushnell, Director, Billerica Council on Aging, for more information.

Marlborough Engages Community Discussion
The Marlborough Action Team held a well-attended community meeting on March 4 to unveil survey results and an action plan as the final step in COME 2 B Dementia Friendly, a BayPath Elder Services initiative. Marlborough initiated a dementia registry through the Marlborough Police Department, developed a dementia friendly community website, and has the first dementia friendly school in Massachusetts, Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School. Members of Marlborough's action team, as well as other event attendees who joined the team, have committed to continue Marlborough's efforts to become dementia friendly with visions of developing memory friendly restaurants in the downtown area.

Visit Marlborough's website for more information or to submit questions on their contact page.

Social Program in Framingham
Connections at Callahan is a program that supports people with dementia and their care partners by providing a weekly activity with a volunteer on-site at the Callahan Center, located at 535 Union Avenue, in Framingham. This free program helps the person living with dementia continue to experience an active and social life while allowing their care partners a well-deserved hour or two for themselves. Connections at Callahan is currently seeking volunteers.

For more information about participating or volunteering, contact Deb Bourque, Program Coordinator, at 508-532-5980 x4118.

Music & Memory Pilot at JF&CS
At JF&CS, we have found a great deal of interest and enthusiasm in Music & Memory, our pilot program to provide personalized music playlists to individuals living with dementia with their care partner in their own home. We have expanded the scope of this program to include not only people with dementia but also people with Parkinson's disease, mental illness, and younger adults with disabilities. Our participants are finding the personalized music to have many benefits, including stimulating positive emotions and memories, providing a calming experience, and counteracting boredom and social isolation. For many of our participants, listening to music with loved ones has created an avenue for connection when conventional conversation has become more challenging.

Contact Robin Krawczyk at to learn more about this exciting program. 

Cape Fundraising Walk
Hope Dementia Health is getting people out walking to support their family services, offered at no cost to caregivers. All proceeds from their fundraising walk held in early May support families within the community affected by Alzheimer's and related dementias.

Visit their website for more information or contact Julie Dalton at or 508-957-0282. 
Spotlight on Memory Cafés MemoryCafe

Visit the Statewide Café Directory
Massachusetts is currently home to almost 60 memory cafés and more are being planned! Memory cafés are social gatherings for people living with dementia, their family, friends, and professional caregivers. Cafés decrease social isolation and provide opportunities for joy and laughter. Each café is independently run and reflects the flavor of its community.

Find all Massachusetts Memory cafés online and locate a memory café near you.

New "Day Camp" in Brookline
The Memory Connections Café of Brookline will be hosting its first outdoor "day camp" café on August 23 based on Camp Momentia of Seattle. Although still in the early planning stages, the café will be an extended event held at Larz Anderson Park, featuring BBQ foods, "campfire sing-a-longs," games, and a summer-themed haiku workshop. A community-wide event co-sponsored by the Brookline Council on Aging, Brookline Recreation, Goddard House Assisted Living, and Centre Communities of Brookline, this will offer participants with memory challenges and their care partners a fun-filled day to enjoy each other and nature's beauty.

For more information, please contact Jamie at or 617-730-2753. Please visit the Momentia Seattle website for more information on Camp Momentia.

Café in Marion Awarded Grant
The Waterfront Memory Café in Marion was recently awarded a $2,000 Southcoast Health Community Impact Opportunity Grant!

For more information about this café, contact Heather Sylvia at or 508-748-3570.

New Café in Littleton
Littleton's Memory Café began on April 29 at the Littleton First Baptist Church. The café meets monthly on the fourth Saturday of every month from 10:00 a.m. to noon. All welcome.

To learn more about this café, contact Anne Lee Ellis at or 978-486-4075. 
Articles and News from Around the World nation
Thank You!
  • Tufts Health Plan Foundation for funding the Dementia Friendly Massachusetts Initiative as well as supporting the age-friendly movement throughout the Commonwealth
  • The Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Jewish Family & Children's Service, the Alzheimer's Association MA/NH Chapter, LeadingAge Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging, the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, and the Multicultural Coalition on Aging
  • The 40+ organizations that form the Dementia Friendly Massachusetts Initiative Advisory Group
  • Everyone who contributed to this newsletter and are working to make Massachusetts more dementia friendly!
The Dementia Friendly Massachusetts Initiative is co-convened by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and Jewish Family & Children's Service (JF&CS) and managed by representatives from the Alzheimer's Association MA/NH Chapter, LeadingAge Massachusetts, Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging, Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, and the Multicultural Coalition on Aging. The Advisory Committee includes more than 40 organizations statewide. DFMI is generously supported by Tufts Health Plan Foundation.