Dementia Alliance Committee: Becoming a Dementia Friendly Community

By Clr Verity Greenwood

Imagine you are in a shopping centre and the music, noise and people makes you so confused you do not know where you are. Imagine you cannot remember where you put your car or even that you have a car.

Finally, imagine you find yourself in a strange street at night in your pyjamas, you do not know how you got there and do not know how to get home, perhaps you cannot remember you have a home. These are just some of the symptoms of dementia and are situations those living with dementia may be confronted with in everyday life.

Dementia has a health and quality of life impact on those living with dementia which also impacts their carers, family and friends. Age, genetics and family medical history are strong factors for developing dementia, but other factors, such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and hearing loss can contribute to developing dementia or hasten its symptoms.

In 2022, an Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing (AIHW) report estimated 401,300 Australians were living with dementia (AIHW, 2022). Our Hornsby Shire is an ageing community, with 25% of our residents aged 40-59 years and 23% of our residents aged over 60 years. Having nearly 50% of our population over the age of 40 years means Hornsby Shire Council must consider the needs required for aged services and support, with a considerable focus being on those living with dementia.

In 2022, Hornsby Council Disability and Inclusion Action Plan and Age Friendly Strategy Consultation Findings Report (DIAP) found Dementia Friendly Communities was a high priority for the community ageing strategy (57%), for people with a disability (54%) and for family members and carers (65%).

These findings were the result of surveys, online and face-to-face consultation forums in Berowra, Galston, Thornleigh, Cherrybrook and Asquith. In 2022, Council also adopted its Healthy Ageing Strategy, with a focus on improved accessibility, activities to support physical and mental health and nurtured age-friendly environments. Council resolved to become a Dementia Friendly Community, with a focus on improving community inclusion and quality of life for people living with dementia.

It is a privilege to be a Councillor representative on the Dementia Alliance Committee alongside Councillor Janelle McIntosh, who initially proposed and is a strong advocate for the Dementia Alliance. Following the 2023 Hornsby Dementia Forum, the Dementia Alliance was officially adopted as an initiative by our Hornsby Council.

Co-chaired by two community members with lived experience of dementia, the volunteer group has begun meeting periodically to advise and direct recommendations to Council to create a more physical and social dementia-friendly community and to assist in helping people living with dementia to be understood, included and accepted without stigma.

The Alliance has already discussed initiatives with Dementia Australia representatives and a prominent Hornsby business and plans to work with businesses, community groups, service organisations and agencies to find solutions to challenges and concerns raised in the 2022 DIAP.

If you have any concerns or issues where I may assist, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]

Hornsby Shire Council collaborates with Dementia Connections “‘DCaf” to create a more dementia-friendly community for locals. “DCaf “meets in Galston , Hornsby and Waitara. See

See Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (Sept 2023) See Hornsby Council resources/initiatives for people with dementia and their carers services/seniors/dementia-supporting-people-living-with-dementiaand- their-carers Further information on Dementia-Friendly Communities see