Dementia Friendly Iowa Winter Newsletter



With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time to consider dementia friendly holiday practices! Holidays are often a time of joy, but they can also pose unique challenges to people living with dementia and their families. Below are some tips to consider and share.


Consider the Environment

  • Consider toning down the distracting decorations, such as blinking lights or decorations with repetitive movement or sound. Avoid potential dangers, such as burning candles or fake fruit on the table.

Consider the Timeline

  • A person with dementia may need to keep attendance at a holiday gathering brief. It can become exhausting or overwhelming being surrounded by all of the people, activities, and food. Perhaps an hour of celebrating is better for them than a full day.
  • Meet the person where they are comfortable. Consider spreading the visits across a few days instead of all in a single day, providing one-on-one visits instead of the large group gathering.
  • People living with dementia may get more confused or tired in the evenings. Consider celebrating earlier in the day.

Provide a Quiet Space

  • A person with dementia may need a quieter room to rest or visit with a person one-on-one instead of the full group.

Prepare the Other Guests

  • Provide an update to other guests on the new symptoms of the person with dementia beforehand if possible. Offer helpful communication tips and set realistic expectations.

Adapt the Activities

  • Some traditions may need to be cut or adapted. Focus on what works best now, not what you’ve always traditionally done.
  • Prepare a back up activity in case the person with dementia gets overstimulated or anxious during a gathering. This may include looking at photos, going for a walk, or leaving early if needed.

Have an “Escape Plan”

  • A person living with dementia may get exhausted or overwhelmed at the family gathering earlier than they have in the past. Maybe it’s difficult for them to make it through opening gifts or dinner time. Have a plan ahead of time to help your loved one leave early if needed – drive separately, make an excuse (running to the store, looking at holiday lights, etc.), or something else for your “escape plan.”

Extend Patience to Others

  • Often, other family members have unrealistic expectations for their family member with dementia. If you have a loved one with dementia, extend grace and patience. Dementia can be different day-to-day, and bustling holiday celebrations can be extremely overstimulating. A little patience can go a long way.


Learn More



Recap of October & November Dementia Education Sessions



Check out this video recap of our October & November Dementia Friends sessions & Dementia Friendly Business trainings. It’s incredible to see the wide reach of this program — from Girl Scouts to assisted living, financial institutions to day spas, and everywhere in between! Thank you for playing a part in making Iowa more dementia-friendly.



Launch a Dementia Friendly Community Effort

Spark a Local Initiative for Lasting Impact


Help your community become the next Dementia Friendly Community in Iowa! A dementia friendly community is a town, city or county that is seeking to be more informed, safe and respectful of individuals with the disease, their families and caregivers. Becoming a recognized Dementia Friendly Community means a community is engaging in a process to become more dementia friendly. Community initiatives are driven by volunteer action teams which include people living with dementia as key members. These efforts seek to reinforce strengths and fill gaps when it comes to support for people with dementia. This could include offering dementia training for businesses as well as launching local supports such as volunteer groups, memory cafes, support groups, education, and more.


Check out this FAQ List to learn more about becoming a Dementia Friendly Community or visit our website.


The Cedar Valley, Dubuque, Johnson County, Maquoketa, and Vinton are the five communities that have recognized Dementia Friendly Community initiatives underway. Currently, Bettendorf, Delaware County, Decorah, Mapleton, and Linn County are building action teams and beginning the launch phase. Everyone from all sectors of the community is welcome to join in on the efforts! If you are interested, contact or call 319-287-1182.



Dementia Friendly Delaware County Progress

KMCH Radio Feature


KMCH (Eastern Iowa radio station) recently featured Dementia Friendly Delaware County action team members, Cheri Orcutt and Angel Emanuel, to discuss the plans for building a more dementia friendly community. Plans include launching a dementia friendly social gathering, hosting a caregiver support group, and offering regular dementia education to the community. The team will soon be submitting their application to Dementia Friendly America to officially join the network of dementia friendly community initiatives. Very exciting! Listen to the 10-minute radio feature here:



Join our Mission!

Seeking Volunteers in Rural Counties & Diverse Populations

Would you or someone you know make a great Champion?



Our Champions present Dementia Friends sessions and Dementia Friendly Business trainings in their local communities. Currently, we have Volunteer Champion Presenters in around 75% of Iowa counties. Most of the unreached counties are rural. In addition, we are seeking Champion volunteers who are bi-lingual to help offer sessions in other languages.


To become a Champion, you must attend a two-hour virtual training. Upcoming Champion Trainings are scheduled for:

  1. Tuesday, December 19, 2-4pm (via Zoom)
  2. Wednesday, January 31, 9-11am (via Zoom)
  3. Thursday, February 29, 11am-1pm (via Zoom)


Register for the Champion Volunteer Training here.


Email or call 319-287-1182 to learn more about becoming a Champion Volunteer.



December Alzheimer’s Association Education Series

Every Thursday at 11am in December



Join the Alzheimer’s Association for this free virtual education series surrounding topics on effective communication, driving, visiting the doctor, dementia-related behaviors, and managing money. Learn more or register here.





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Dementia Friendly Iowa (NEI3A) | 3840 W. 9th Street, Waterloo, IA 50702 3192392902