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Dementia Friendly - Princeton

Dementia Friendly - Princeton

A new organization has been established in Princeton, Illinois – Dementia Friendly-Princeton. On February 3, 2023, Princeton was welcomed as the 26th Illinois community to be officially recognized as a dementia friendly community and part of the Dementia Friendly-America Network. The organization was formed to raise awareness and develop respect and inclusion for people with dementia.


Someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds, with an estimated forty-seven million people worldwide living with dementia. Over five million Americans, one in eight people age sixty-five and older, is living with dementia. Nearly 60% of people with dementia live in their own community homes and one in seven live alone.


Dementia Friendly-Princeton first began in 2022 when Director of the Bureau County Senior Center, Denise Ihrig, was contacted by Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging to participate in an initiative with the Illinois Cognitive Resource Center. The ICRC was tasked with supporting communities in Illinois through the process of becoming more dementia friendly. Denise approached various leaders and members of the community, asking for their help in officially bringing the organization to Princeton. For more than a year the individuals and organizations met  to discuss where gaps in services for people with dementia and their caregivers exist in the Princeton community and what initiatives could be developed to fill them.


The group decided on four initiatives – creating a caregiver’s support group in partnership with the local Alzheimer’s association; preparing a nine-week stress buster caregiver program;  distributing educational resource packets to caregivers; and offering community education to raise awareness and created “dementia friends” in the business community. Organizations and businesses will be able to be considered a friend by having their members and employees take part in a free hour-long training. Once trained, they will receive a certificate to display advising visitors that they are a dementia-friendly business.


Through the Princeton Police Department, caregivers who get involved in the organization can also be given a tracking device that can be worn by an individual with dementia. The devices are water and impact proof and will operate on radio frequency rather than by GPS. Caregivers receiving the device will be given a kit in order to change the battery and a device to test the tracker to ensure it is working.


“If someone were to go missing, they would call us and would have officers respond with a tracking system,” Police Chief Tom Kammerer said. “Through the radio frequency, we are then able to narrow down where they are.” Kammerer also said that on the ground, the department would have about a mile reach, but in the air, this would increase to around five miles.


The city of Princeton has received substantial donations toward the purchase of these devices and more fundraising will be taking place through the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation.


Aside from tracking and training, the group also hopes to bring more awareness about people with dementia to the community and help them be more equipped to help those that may become lost or confused.


To learn more about the Dementia Friendly America Network, visit What is DFA — Dementia Friendly America (dfamerica.org)

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