Dr. Christy Nishita, a Researcher and Gerontologist at the Center on Aging, University of Hawai’I, has thought about this a lot and recently gave a presentation at the Kuakini Medical Center called “Building a Dementia Capable System in Hawaii.”
I had a chance to chat with Dr. Nishita about inter-generational age-friendly projects in Honolulu such as organized walks where neighbors look for things that are unsafe or potentially harmful in the community. For example, during a walk folks may find tree roots coming up from under sidewalks and ask them to be removed for safety reasons.
Dr. Nishita explained the idea of "dementia-friendly" communities which facilitate the inclusion for persons with dementia and promote their overall quality of life. Learn about age friendly Honolulu at http://agefriendlyhonolulu.com/dementia-friends/
Dr. Nishita is excited about a program in Seattle called “Momentia”. It is a grassroots movement empowering persons with memory loss and their loved ones to remain connected and active in the community. It encourages social connectedness and removes isolation by offering a variety of activities including hiking, field trips to art museums and attending a movie theater. Momentia even has a program that helps to encourage and recruit employers to take on employees with mild dementia. It’s a wonderful movement and we wish we could have something like this in Honolulu, too. http://www.momentiaseattle.org.
I discovered that a common question people ask Dr. Nishita is how she became interested in the field? She told me that while finishing up her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado, she needed only one more course credit and she chose an “Introduction to Gerontology” class. This event changed her life and started her path into Gerontology, the study of the social, cultural, psychological, cognitive, and biological aspects of aging.
I showed Dr. Nishita the MemoriesConnect app and she had a lot of ideas for our app. She thought the app could help family members discover more about a loved one; for example, it could be a fun way for kids to learn more about grandma and grandpa. It could also be an activity used in a care home environment as an excellent way for caregivers to learn more about their residents.
Thank you, Dr. Nishita, for all that you do for the communities that you serve and for your work in creating awareness for "dementia-friendly" communities and helping promote quality of life and inclusion for persons with dementia.