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Park Rapids' dementia-friendly initiative recognized statewide

“We’ve gotten statewide buzz about our program up here,” says Connie Carmichael, executive director with Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area.

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The Park Rapids area’s dementia-friendly community initiative will receive special notice at an upcoming ACT on Alzheimer's summit.

Scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, “Moving Forward: 2022 Dementia Friendly Community Summit” is an in-person and online event with three locations across Minnesota and a virtual option.

Besides locations in St. Paul, Redwood Falls and Duluth, participants can attend online by registering at www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-forward-2022-dementia-friendly-community-summit-online-tickets-400511459557 .

ACT on Alzheimer's is a statewide organization addressing the impacts of dementia.

Speakers will include Sarah Lenz Lock, senior vice president for policy for AARP and executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health, as well as community leaders sharing their work and its successes and challenges.


“Park Rapids specifically is being highlighted,” said Connie Carmichael, executive director with Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area. “Our dementia-friendly community initiative has been going on since 2018, and we’ve done quite a few things. We have an established website now; we have a resource brochure specific to dementia resources in the local area; we have a very robust caregiver support program here at Living at Home, which is the only one in the area like it.”

Carmichael said that the dementia-friendly Park Rapids ACTION team has a lot of good initiatives going forward, including an all-day presentation by Teepa Snow, Oct. 6 at Faithbridge Church, on her Positive Approach to Care learning model.

“We’ve gotten statewide buzz about our program up here,” she said, “which is one of the reason why ACT on Alzheimer’s chose to highlight our community and everything that we’re trying to do here to reduce the fear and stigma of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and to support caregivers and those that are living with dementia every single day.”

Other topics will include cultural approaches to living with and caring for people with dementia, research and initiatives from the Minnesota Department of Health to reduce risk.

The summit will also feature a screening of the new Remember Project play, “Mango Songs,” written by and starring Alia Jiraj, with director Aamera Siddiqui and director of photography Hannah Robb.

“Mango Songs” follows Alia’s journey to (re)membering/(re)learning, from witnessing her dad’s Alzheimer’s to memory loss that happens when families move across oceans and adopt new languages and customs. Alia asks, “How do you find a memory everyone has forgotten?”

Other Remember Project plays, designed to start conversations about memory loss, include “Fortune Cookies” and “Steering into the Skid.” These plays continue to be performed live and in virtual form around the region, including a live performance of “Fortune Cookies” on Sept. 27 in Bemidji. To learn more about the Remembrance project, visit rememberproject.org .

For more information about the Dementia Friendly Park Rapids, visit dfc.parkrapidslivingathome.org/images/DF-PR-Brochure.pdf .


Northwoods Bank donated $570 from their Blue Jean Friday initiative to Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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