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County Launches Dementia Friendly Initiative

On December 8, 2016

Montgomery County has launched its Dementia Friendly initiative – a set of strengthened services and supports for affected community members. Montgomery County is part of Dementia Friendly America, an emerging network of cities and states creating an informed, safe and respectful community for people and families.

“We want everyone to know that Montgomery County is strengthening the services and empowerment we offer to individuals and families experiencing dementia,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “And, we want to ensure that people in this situation are aware of County supports so they can make use of them.”

Strengthened services include a new program of collaboration among public safety officers to offer additional support to individuals experiencing cognitive challenges and their families. Enhanced public safety supports include:

  • Montgomery County Police and Fire & Rescue personnel are distributing an expanded version of the County’s “File of Life” medical history form and conducting particular outreach to individuals with dementia and their families. File of Life is a fillable medical history form that can be hung with a refrigerator magnet for access in an emergency situation.
  • Montgomery County Police are providing wearable ID bracelets to affected individuals. These can help first responders and others identify a family caregiver to contact in the event an individual with dementia becomes lost or needs medical help and cannot fully explain their situation.
  • Montgomery County Police Autism/Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)/Dementia Outreach unit is expanding its efforts in order to inform more families about dementia-related supports and how to access them.
  • Montgomery County Police will continue providing training for officers in dementia supports; such training has been in place for the past decade. Additionally, in February 2017, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue will initiate online training for first responders based on the Alzheimer’s Association model, customized with public safety chief messages and reflecting Montgomery County services.

"The help I received from the police was outstanding,” said Fernand Dahan, a County resident who received supports from Montgomery County Police when his wife suffered from cognitive challenges. “Without their help, I would have felt totally lost."

Montgomery County continues to provide other services to this community of individuals and families. These include:

  • The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) helps people to remain in the community safely and independently by providing a wide array of programs and supports. HHS also manages the Aging and Disability Resource Line (240-777-3000) to answer questions and help guide people to appropriate services such as adult day programs, respite care, home health and nutrition services. The Resource Line also provides appropriate information and referrals to public safety programs that individuals with dementia and their families can access.
  • The State’s Attorney’s Office prosecutes financial and physical abuse, including abuse against people with cognitive challenges, and encourages people to report suspected issues.

“We salute Montgomery County for their leadership to become a more committed, caring and compassionate community for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and we are proud to support Dementia Friendly America across the nation and here at home,” said Stacy Haller of Clarksburg-based BrightFocus Foundation. The Foundation supports Alzheimer’s research and welcomed Montgomery County to join the emerging network of Dementia Friendly America communities in December 2015.

Individuals and families interested in learning more about these Montgomery County programs and how to access them are invited to call the HHS Aging and Disability Resource Line at 240-777-3000. The resource line is available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except that hours are extended until 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This line offers access to spoken language interpretation service. Families with concerns about wandering are also invited to visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/lifesaver.

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