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A $25 million campus will provide Arizonans with a comprehensive facility that addresses a range of symptoms and forms of dementia, helping fulfill a need of the aging community.

Called the Dementia Care and Education Center, the state-of-the-art medical facility is in Phoenix and operated by the nonprofit Hospice of the Valley and is raising the bar on what dementia care facilities of the future will look like. The center is a one-stop shop for dementia support and care. It is much needed in this region, and elsewhere, as populations with dementia-related symptoms continue to get larger. The new facility’s primary focus is on dementia, a collection of symptoms that impact a person’s cognitive functions, leading to memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning.

While there is no cure for dementia, the medical and scientific communities are continually expanding our understanding of the life-changing disease. The opening of the facility marks an important step forward in dementia care. The breadth of services it will offer patients sets this facility apart from many others.

The campus invites members of the community to access dementia-care resources and training. Community members will also have the opportunity to get involved with social programs, such as an adult day club called Memory Café and a pre-school program that encourages interactions between people with dementia and young children.

Growing population living with dementia

By 2025, it is estimated that more than 200,000 Arizona residents will be living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The state is home to some of the fastest-growing populations living with dementia anywhere in the country.

The Kaiser Health Foundation projects that about 18 percent of Arizona’s population is over the age of 65, outpacing the national average for the population size, which is at higher risk for developing dementia-related illnesses. The Dementia Care and Education Center will boost resources as more individuals and their families seek help with managing care. Previously, many patients did not have access to education and programs for dementia care unless they were in advanced stages of the disease at an in-patient hospice facility.

Specialized and customized care can enhance quality of life, no matter how early or late someone is in their dementia journey. The new facility will open the doors to new resources and training opportunities, opening access to quality care.

Socialization-focused care

The campus will also operate a childcare center designed for intergenerational socialization among patients and children.

In many cases, people with dementia who experience memory loss still have access to long-term memory. In the presence of children, their memory banks from an earlier time are unlocked, creating connections and associations that bring joy and laughter. The Memory Café will let people gather in a safe environment that’s conducive to social gatherings, which can be difficult for people with dementia to navigate in other settings. Sometimes, a social outing can feel like visiting a foreign place.

The Memory Café aims to create a safe and accommodating space where everyone feels comfortable within their surroundings. It will be a place where patients and their support system can step away to enjoy a few lighter moments, including having a bite to eat without additional stress.

Typically, navigating social situations grow increasingly challenging as the disease progresses. However, lack of engagement can also compound complications. Social withdrawal can lead to depression and accelerate disease progression. Rightfully so, the new center will put a focus on socialization and the sense of belonging, two important factors in quality and compassionate care.

For further information on the subject matter, make sure you check out my best-selling book, specifically the chapter on grief as it relates to Dementia-Aware hospice.

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