As you begin the search for quality dementia care, it is likely that you are going to come across a lot of terms that you are unfamiliar with. One of the more common terms you'll hear in the senior living world right now is "ACT Community."
Selecting a caring and healthy environment for a parent or loved one is a big step, which means it is important to understand the various terms you encounter. In this post, we’ll explain the concept of an ACT Community to help you understand how the greater community can assist in caring for those with dementia.
What is an ACT Community?
An ACT Community is a collaboration of neighbors, friends, and families who have come together under the banner of ACT on Alzheimer's to help create a community that is knowledgeable, accommodating, and supportive of those living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, as well as the caregivers who care for them on a daily basis.
ACT on Alzheimer’s, a division operating within the Alzheimer’s Association, launched this initiative. The goal is to call attention to the struggles facing the roughly 5 million Americans living with this debilitating disease, including the 88,000 Minnesotans living with the disease and the 245,000 caregivers helping them enjoy a better life.
In the state of Minnesota, the drive to create ACT Communities began in 2009 with passage of legislation that created a State Government Alzheimer's Disease Plan for Minnesota. The legislation led to the formation of ACT on Alzheimer's, and now includes more than 60 nonprofits, governmental, and private organizations. The program is volunteer-driven and relies upon statewide collaboration to prepare neighborhoods and communities across the state for the physical, emotional, and economic impacts of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
In total, there are currently 34 ACT Communities in the state of Minnesota, with 14 of those located within the 7-county Twin Cities Metropolitan area.
How are ACT Communities Different?
An ACT Community isn't simply a place or environment wherein other individuals understand Alzheimer's and dementia, but rather, a greater neighborhood in which the individuals are informed, safe, and respectful of those living with the disease, their family members, and caregivers. ACT Communities provide supportive senior living options that provide a better quality of life for both Alzheimer's residents and their families.
ACT on Alzheimer's provides communities with a Dementia Capable Communities Toolkit that helps local neighborhoods and cities develop appropriate action plans to care for those suffering from dementia. The four-step plan includes:
- Convene: Leaders of the community and local residents meet to gain a better understanding of Alzheimer's disease and its implication for the community.
- Assess: Compare the current strengths of the community and its gaps in meeting the needs of those suffering from Alzheimer's.
- Analyze: Focus on the needs the community must address and determine issues that stakeholders are motivated to act on. Set community goals.
- ACT Together: Establish an implementation plan for those goals and identify ways to measure progress towards becoming an ACT Community.
ACT Communities go beyond the four walls of an individual community. Future planning as part of the ACT on Alzheimer's program focuses on legal, financial, disability, and long-term care financing options, and combines community volunteerism with local government planning to provide comprehensive care and support for all those affected by the reach of Alzheimer's.
What are the Benefits of ACT Communities?
By choosing to work with an ACT Community to find care, older adults and their loved ones can enjoy the many benefits that come from the support of an ACT Community. In addition to the vital collaboration between community leaders and local governments in planning assisted living, independent living, and health care communities for those with dementia, ACT Communities also provide:
- Wellness Programs: Nutrition and physical activity programs for senior adults
- Meaningful Engagement Activities: Creative arts, intergenerational connections, and spiritual support
- Transportation options
- At-home Risk Reduction Services: Care managers, chore services, home safety, etc.
- Caregiver Counseling & Support Groups: Individual and family counseling geared toward caregivers
ACT Communities go beyond simply providing a safe home for senior adults and their families struggling to cope with Alzheimer's and dementia. An ACT Community provides supportive environments that help seniors make the most of life. And all the living that goes with it.