LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2021) — Imagine being at a restaurant with your family to celebrate a birthday when your loved one orders something obscure with total confidence. It is a situation that, based on how others respond, can quickly escalate into an unpleasant experience for everyone around. It is scenarios like this one that Dementia Friendly Lexington is working to equip local businesses to handle.
Dementia Friendly Lexington (DFL) was formed after several concerned community members began discussing ways Lexington could improve. Lexington is the only Dementia Friendly America community in Kentucky. With the help of several partners, including University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and UK HealthCare Ambulatory Population Health, DFL is striving to make their community a place where people with dementia and their caregivers are empowered, supported and included in society.
“This movement to make our city Dementia Friendly, has been a dream of Lexington native 99-year-old Virginia Bell,” said Amber Lakin, chairperson of Dementia Friendly Lexington Advisory Board. Virginia Bell, who opened the Best Friends Day Center, is an author and world-renowned speaker on dementia. She has been a pioneer in supporting dementia for the last 50 years. Not only is Lexington fortunate to have Virginia Bell, but it is also home to Sanders-Brown. Sanders-Brown Center on Aging is a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of life for older adults through research, outreach and education, and clinical programs. The work of Sanders-Brown has touched older adults and their loved ones locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally.
In her letter of support for Dementia Friendly Lexington’s official designation, Sanders-Brown Director Linda J. Van Eldik, Ph.D., explained, “The goals of this dementia-friendly focused coalition align with the goals of Sanders-Brown on providing safe, comfortable, compassionate communities for people with dementia and their families.”
On Oct. 26, DFL along with their partners will celebrate an important achievement on the path to seeing a more dementia-friendly community. Ramsey’s, a locally owned restaurant, is hosting the city’s first Dementia Friendly Restaurant Night at their Zandale location. The evening will include a brief dedication ceremony and celebration for the restaurant becoming a certified Dementia Friendly business.
Staff members completed a training course learning things like how to recognize dementia in a customer and how to make sure both they and their caregivers feel supported and understood. DFL provided the training which teaches things like engaging in “relationship-centered service.”
During the training videos, David Nisbet, a local business owner and founding member of DFL, gave the example of a customer who is wearing a hat. He described the hat as potentially reading “Vietnam Veteran” or having a University of Kentucky logo and starting a conversation with them by saying, “Thank you for your service” or “How about those Cats?”
Nisbet knows firsthand what it is like to go out in the community with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease after watching his father’s cognitive decline. Through the training videos, he explains to participants the importance of being patient, asking yes or no questions, providing visual cues, avoiding the use of negative words if needing to redirect the customer, and offering praise and compliments. He says equipping staff members with tools and information will make them more confident when serving a customer living with dementia as well as any caregivers who might be with them.
Ramsey’s owner, Rob Ramsey, says they are excited to participate in the program. “We not only look forward to welcoming those with dementia and their caregivers but especially look forward to the exposure and learning experience our staff and customers might acquire as a result of our participation. We hope to play a part in creating a more compassionate attitude to this ailment that could affect any of us going forward.”
DFL hopes that recognizing Ramsey’s for their participation will bring awareness to their goal of seeing Lexington become a more dementia friendly community — a city that is informed, safe, and respectful of individuals with the disease, their families and caregivers and provides supportive options that foster quality of life.
Dementia Friendly restaurant night on Oct. 26 begins at 4:30p.m. at the Zandale Ramsey’s. Organizers encourage people with dementia and their caregivers to come enjoy an evening out while being supported, empowered and understood.
Any business can register to become dementia friendly, once the business has fulfilled all the requirements, they will receive a Dementia Friendly logo window cling to be displayed at the business location and be part of Dementia Friendly Lexington network.
For more information on Dementia Friendly Lexington visit, www.agefriendlylexington.org/age-friendly-lexington.
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