On May 4, 2018, I was honored to lead a session entitled “Dementia and Alzheimer’s Services @ Your Library” for approximately 40 frontline library staff members attending the annual Reaching Forward Conference sponsored by the Illinois Library Association. In addition to demonstrating how NLM databases such as Medline Plus can provide much needed medical information for those living with dementia and their care partners, I was also able to share some of the knowledge about dementia that I learned during the decade that I cared for my late husband who had been diagnosed with a young onset dementia at age 56. As a member of the leadership team for the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Interest Group (IGARD) of the American Library Association, I am also aware of many concrete examples of programs and services provided by libraries across the country directly to those living with the disease, as well as to their caregivers. I was able to share information about programs such as:
Library support staff often work directly with the public, which increasingly includes those living with dementia and their caregivers. Audience members indicated that they would appreciate more training in how to communicate and interact with this population, especially as the number of people affected by dementia is expected to grow exponentially in the future.
Although libraries are beginning to become aware of the proactive role they can play in their communities to improve the quality of life for those living with dementia, much more can be done. I told this attentive and focused audience about a nationwide initiative called Dementia Friendly America that seeks to bring together all aspects of a community, including libraries, in an effort to increase awareness of, and provide services for, those living with dementia. Libraries can help to truly transform the lives of those living with dementia in their communities. I hope this discussion is just beginning…
–Guest post by Mary Beth Riedner
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