To help make Topsfield a caring and supportive community for those residents living with dementia and their caregivers.
NEWS UPDATE: The Topsfield Fair – A “Dementia Friendly” First!
For its 200th anniversary year, the 11-day Topsfield Fair (September 28 to October 8) will break new ground as the first agricultural fair in the country to partner with the “Dementia Friendly” (DF) movement offering caregivers and those living with dementia an enjoyable experience.
Topsfield Fair General Manager, James O’Brien, is unveiling a multi-year plan that includes educating hundreds of Fair volunteers and staff about the top ten signs of dementia along with practical communication tips. A downloadable “Dementia Friendly Fair Map” is available on the Topsfield Fair website identifying a direct path to highlights, restrooms, DF food vendors and DF visitor tips.
For more information and to download the “Dementia Friendly Map”, visit the Topsfield Fair website at www.topsfieldfair.org and click on the “Dementia Friendly” link with the blue forget-me-not flower.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a term that describes a group of symptoms. These symptoms can include memory loss and changes in thinking, vision and motor skills that can make it difficult to perform simple daily activities such as bathing and eating. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 60-80 percent of all cases. Other types of dementia include Vascular, Frontotemporal, and Dementia with Lewy Bodies. In general, dementia symptoms will worsen over time. While dementia cannot be cured, there are medications to help manage the symptoms.
Normal Aging vs. Alzheimer's Disease
While it’s normal for a person to experience changes with their memory, vision and motor skills as they grow older, the changes brought about by Dementia are more pervasive and disruptive to daily living. Below are the ten early signs and symptoms of dementia:
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
4. Confusion with time or place.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
8. Decreased or poor judgment.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
10. Changes in mood and personality.
Dementia Friendly Topsfield (DFT) Goals 2018-2019
To make Topsfield an even more caring and supportive community for those residents living with Dementia, as well as their givers, the DFT team has developed three goals for 2018-2019:
1. Increase Awareness of Dementia
The DFT team began holding Dementia Friends Information Sessions in February of 2018. Participants learned what dementia is, the tops ten signs and symptoms, ways in which people can better communicate with those living with dementia, and local resources available to provide advice and support services.
To date 658 participants have attended DFT’s Information Sessions – which represents 51% of all Information Sessions held to date across MA. The next two DFT Information Sessions will be held at the Topsfield Library at 7:00 PM on October 30th and November 8th.
Working with Masconomet administration, Maggie Chiffer, a DFT team member, high school student and Gold Award Girl Scout recipient, gained commitment to incorporate a segment on brain health and dementia prevention into Masconomet’s sophomore year health curriculum. Each year 250 sophomores will receive this information.
2. Provide Customer Care Training to Organizations and Businesses
The Topsfield Police Department attended Dementia training from the Alzheimer’s Association (AA) as part of a state-wide effort in 2017. The Topsfield Fire Department received First Responder Dementia training from the Alzheimer’s Association on April 2, 2018. Employees and volunteers in Topsfield’s Town Hall, Town Library and municipal departments received training from the Alzheimer’s Association on May 30, 2018 to help them provide support and service to individuals living with Dementia.
The DFT Co-Chair, jointly with a member from Concord’s Dementia team, held a Dementia Information Session for employees of the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston in July, 2018. This was the first courthouse in MA to participate in a Dementia Information Session.
Working jointly to facilitate a quicker rollout of training to local businesses across MA, the Alzheimer’s Association and Dementia Friends of MA, developed a pilot training program, that delivered to businesses by local Dementia teams. The DFT Team was asked to pilot the program beginning in September, 2018. The first two businesses scheduled for training by DFT with this program are People’s United Bank and the Daybreak Café.
3. Enhance Availability and Awareness of Social and Support Services
Throughout the year DFT has provided marketing support to increase awareness of existing support services in Topsfield including the Rest Stop Ranch and its beautiful and therapeutic gardens on Rt 97, and the Topsfield Memory Café held at the Trinity Congregational Church in the winter and at the Rest Stop Ranch in the warmer months.
DFT Team member, Maggie Chiffer, introduced a new and fun service in February to help with dementia prevention – a tap and rhythmic-movement dance class called Dance Out Dementia: Train Your Brain with the Beat of Your Feet (danceoutdementia.com). The class is designed for all levels with no experience needed. Classes are held most Thursday afternoons between 3:15-4:00 pm at Trinity Church. To date over 150 people have attended Maggie’s classes.
A high school student, Jessica Bermudez, created a new service in June called Furry Friends (furry-friends.net) to address a need raised by a caregiver at a Dementia Information Session who mentioned that people living with Dementia are not able to own a pet. In response Jessica started a service where she provides loving, therapy dogs to various events sponsored by the Council on Aging, the Topsfield Memory Café, and the YMCA.
Resources for Our Community
Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Hotline (www.alz.org or call 1-800-272-3900)
-Free expert advice, referrals, emotional support and crisis assistance
-Dementia-related education and training
-Information about “Alz MeetUps” and other social programs
CJP SeniorDirect (email@example.com or call 1-800-980-1982)
-Free expert advice and information on MA resources for older adults and their families
800AgeInfo (www.ageinfo.com or call 1-800-243-4636)
-Free information about MA resources for older adults and their families
Dementia Friendly Massachusetts (www.dfmassachusetts.org)
-Information to help MA communities become safer and more inclusive for people living with Dementia, their families and care providers
-Wheelchair accessible gardens for enjoyment and therapeutic benefit
Dance Out Dementia (http://danceoutdementia.com)
-Chair-based dance classes designed to reduce the risk of getting dementia through steps that require the brain to forge new neural pathways
Furry Friends (https://www.furry-friends.net/)
-A service providing loving, therapy dogs to events in Topsfield and surrounding towns
Dementia Friendly Team:
Lynne Bermudez Co-Chair & Topsfield COA Board Member
Bette Cullinan Co-Chair & Topsfield COA Board Member
Paula Burke Executive Director -Topsfield COA
Mary MacDonald Founder - Rest-Stop-Ranch
Creative Director - Topsfield Memory Cafe
Maggie Chiffer Founder & Owner – Dance Out Dementia
Joan Chiffer Team Member & Dementia Friends Champion
Karen Moniz Caregiver Specializing in Dementia
Kim Love Team Member & Topsfield COA Board Member
Kathy Curran Team Member & Friends of the Topsfield COA Board
Dementia Friendly Partners: