Dementia Friendly Illinois

Though Illinois was recognized as a Dementia Friendly state in 2017, now the community work continues. Dementia Friendly Illinois is part of Dementia Friendly America and communities across the state are joining the movement.  Currently 8 communities in Illinois are designated as Dementia Friendly with many more in the process. This page collects and shares resources to support the efforts of communities in Illinois to become part of the Dementia Friendly America movement.


Dementia Friendly Illinois is about working with persons with dementia and their support systems.  All too often, persons living with or at risk for dementia feel alone and unheard.  They feel left out from the activities in their community that promote well-being.  Dementia Friendly Illinois is about reversing the narrative.  Communities, big and small, can see the value in making their communities more dementia friendly.  Dementia Friendly Illinois is about improving the journey of persons with dementia and their support systems.

Voices of People This Will Impact

Interview responses to “How can we create a more “Dementia Friendly America” together?

Dementia Friendly Illinois is supported Illinois Cognitive Resources Network.  The Illinois Cognitive Resources Network (ICRN) is dedicated to making Illinois a national leader in the development and implementation of effective community-based models for adults to access research, education, training, and support services to promote cognitive health and quality of life  Member organizations of the Illinois Cognitive Resources Network include volunteer health advocacy organizations focused on dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Centers along with Aging, Disability, and Public Health Networks in Illinois.  Some, but not all members, are listed on another page of this website.


Building dementia friendly communities in Illinois is of significant importance to the families and persons living with or at risk for dementia.  Based on the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures report, it is estimated that 220,000 people in Illinois have dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and by 2025 the number will increase by 18% to 260,000 people.  If all the people with dementia lived in a single Illinois city, it would be the second largest after Chicago.  When we take into account that each person with dementia has multiple informal caregivers, another 588,000 persons living in Illinois are impacted by dementia.  Of course, all the people with dementia and their family do not live in a single community; they are living in every community in Illinois.  Every one of these individuals has to navigate through their communities to support the well-being of a person living with or at risk for dementia.  If they do not feel supported by their community, they start becoming isolated.  Isolation leads to worsening well-being along with poor physical and mental health.


The key to developing a dementia-friendly community is to engage multiple community sectors in the planning and implementation.

Dementia friendly community

Figure courtesy of Dementia Friendly America

Four Phases for Dementia Friendly Community Planning and Implementation

Dementia Friendly America has outlined 4 phases for dementia friendly community planning and implementation:

  1. Convene.  Convene key community leaders and members to understand dementia and its implications for your community. Then, form an Action Team.
  2. Engage.  Engage key leaders to assess current strengths and gaps in your community using a comprehensive engagement tool.
  3. Analyze. Analyze your community needs and determine the issues stakeholders are motivated to act on; then set community goals.
  4. Act.  Act together to establish implementation plans for your goals and identify ways to measure progress.

General information about community planning can be found on the Dementia Friendly America website.

Sector Specific Resources

Some key sector specific resources provided by Dementia Friendly America include:

  1. Banks and Financial Services
  2. Neighbors and Community Members
  3. Legal and Advance Planning Services
  4. Government, Community, and Mobility Planning
  5. Health Care throughout the Continuum
  6. Libraries
  7. Communities of Faith
  8. Businesses
  9. Community-based Services and Supports
  10. Memory Loss Supports and Services
  11. Government: Emergency Planning and Response
  12. Hospitals


Upon completion of the Dementia Friendly America Illinois Workshop on March 30, 2017 in Springfield, Illinois, Dementia Friendly Illinois should be listed as a resource on the Dementia Friendly America website (dfamerica.org).  There is no set time limit for Dementia Friendly America to then provide general technical support to communities in Illinois desiring to engage in the process of becoming a part of the Dementia Friendly America movement.  Dementia Friendly America provides a suggested timeline for communities to consider when going through the process of becoming more “dementia friendly.”


Dementia Friendly Illinois wants to support the recognition of at least one community in each Planning Service Area in the State as being part of Dementia Friendly America.

Map of Illinois


You can find a community planning toolkit and other national resources at the Dementia Friendly America’s website.  You can find community sector state-wide resources and other information on this page.  As local Illinois communities work through their planning and implementation processes, we will highlight the lessons they have learned on this webpage.  Finally, if you are a community leader in need of more focused technical assistance, please contact ICRN at info@ilbrainhealth.org.

State-wide Resources by Community Sector





  • Illinois Library Association
  • Illinois has three library systems – Chicago Public Library, Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) and Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS).  RAILS has created a “Serving Patrons with Dementia Group” which holds quarterly meetings and has a listserv and web page.
  • The American Library Association has an Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Interest Group (IGARD). Although this is a national group, it doese include a “National Survey of Current Practices” where libraries self-identify if they offer programs and services to persons living with dementia.   This can a good resource for communities to help them identify model libraries in their area to contact and emulate.



 Community Based Services and Support


Local Government

Communities in Illinois Engaging in the Dementia Friendly America Movement


  • Dementia Friendly North Chicago/Lake County — For more information, contact Colette Jordan (Community Planner, Family Caregiver Support Program, Counseling, Legal & Transportation), Agency on Aging Northeastern Illinois 245 W Roosevelt Road, Building #6, Suite 41; West Chicago, IL 60185; P: (630) 293-5990   F: (630) 293-7488; cjordan@ageguide.org. www.AgeGuide.org.
    • Dementia Friendly Kick-off Meeting North Chicago  December 15, 2017. North Chicago stakeholders held their first dementia-friendly community meeting, and it was a huge success (for a picture of the attendees, please see Dementia Friendly North Chicago Kick-Off)
    • Developed Advisory Committee North Chicago/Lake County – February 2018
    • Tales and Travels Memories Library Program and developing 10 kits to share with providers region-wide (volunteer program)
    • Piloting the Stress Busters for Family Caregivers of People with Dementia evidenced based program
      • First 9 week session April 12-June 7, 2018 Foss Park District, North Chicago
      • Train the Trainer session in June 25th and 26th at the Area Agency West Chicago Office
      • Upcoming Outreach
      • Vendor Booth at North Chicago Community Days August 6 & 7, 2018
      • North Chicago Mayor Rockingham Proclamation – Dementia Friendly Day August 6, 2018
      • North Chicago Fire Department Safety Fair in October 2018
      • Lake Co Housing Authority will host Memory Cafes at various Senior Housing Communities throughout Lake County
      • Vista East will coordinate Dementia Friendly staff training at hospital and organize a Committee to attend NC Aldermen Meetings
      • Memory Sunday in June 2018 for Faith Communities in North Chicago
  • Dementia Friendly Kankakee County — For more information, contact Colette Jordan (Community Planner, Family Caregiver Support Program, Counseling, Legal & Transportation), Agency on Aging Northeastern Illinois 245 W Roosevelt Road, Building #6, Suite 41; West Chicago, IL 60185; P: (630) 293-5990   F: (630) 293-7488; cjordan@ageguide.org. www.AgeGuide.org
    • Dementia Friendly Kick-off Meetings Kankakee County– December 2017
    • Developed Advisory Committee in Kankakee County – February 2018
    • Piloting the Stress Busters for Family Caregivers of People with Dementia evidenced based program
      • Train the Trainer session in June 25th and 26th at the Area Agency West Chicago Office
      • 9 week session at Kankakee Community College Lifetime Learning Institute in September/October 2018
    • Memory Cafes’ in Kankakee County
      • May- Feed or Manteno Paper Scissors
      • June- planting and landscaping café
        • Manteno Fire has offered to engage the Memory Café participants and U of I Extension in planting at the Manteno Fire Station.
      • August-Yoga experience, exercise in the park
      • October-Blues Café
      • November-Alzheimer’s Month-Music theme
    • Upcoming Outreach
      • Friendship Festival Resource Tent
      • Manteno Senior Academy scheduled on June 19th
      • World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Fair schedule on June 15th
      • Daily Journal Senior Fair in September
      • Alzheimer’s Walk scheduled in September
      • Farmer’s Market


  • Evanston (2018) —  Barbara Sittler, LCSW, M.Div, (sittlerbarbara@gmail.com), Community Engagement Coordinator, Services for Adults Staying in their Homes (SASI)   Dementia Friendly Evanston is a community-wide education, outreach, collaboration, and advocacy to maximize the quality of life, community participation, and independence for Evanstonians living with dementia and their care partners.  Our vision is to create a welcoming and barrier-free community for individuals with dementia and their care partners through compassion, support, and stigma reduction. The Dementia Friendly Evanston committee is, with the exception of one part time staff, is an entirely volunteer grass roots committee and consists of a broad cross-section of people including care partners of people with dementia, social workers, mental health and health care professionals and we welcome, encourage, and facilitate the participation of individuals with AD and related dementias within their abilities. Finally, Dementia Friendly Evanston is joined by members of local organizations including home care agencies, Age Friendly Evanston, Evanston Community Foundation, Evanston Public Library, North Shore Village, and Northwestern University.  In conjunction with Dr. Angela Roberts, a Northwestern University faculty member and researcher in language and cognitive-communication disorders associated with neurodegenerative diseases, Dementia Friendly Evanston has started to lead research based focus groups in the Evanston community to identify the needs of individuals with dementia and their care partners. These focus groups are deliberately diverse and look at the needs expressed in Evanston including under-represented communities. Data from these focus groups are being presented at the 2019 American Society on Aging National Conference and are expected to form the basis of efforts by Dementia Friendly Evanston moving forward. As such, identified stakeholders in the areas of government, healthcare, education, and social services are actively engaged with Dementia Friendly Evanston in meeting the needs of Evanstonian families living with dementia.  Key partners include Mather Lifeways, Services for Adults Staying in Their Home (SASI), the Evanston Commission on Aging, and Dr. Darby Morhardt from the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
  • Grayslake — Community Lead, Mike Steiner (mike@rightathomenlc.com)
  • Elgin Justine Barton Glenna Godinsky Dementia Friendly Elgin, a collaboration between the Gail Borden Public Library District and the Northeastern Illinois Agency on Aging, has created a Dementia Friendly Advisory Council consisting of dedicated partners from local government, faith communities, law enforcement, the community and residential care services—making this a true community initiative. Together, their vision is to improve the lives, independence, welfare and dignity of those with memory issues, while maintaining the greatest level of compassion, expertise and integrity. Dementia Friendly Elgin is dedicated to strengthening and supporting those with memory impairments and their caregivers by raising awareness, reducing social stigmas, educating and communicating best practices.
  • Glencoe Emily Mysel The Dementia Friendly Glencoe Initiative aims to provide community-wide education on awareness and mindfulness around dementia that will help impacted individuals continue engaging in community life while living independently and enhancing their quality-of-life. The Village of Glencoe and Family Service of Glencoe have joined forces with a vision of reducing the stigma and isolation that often affect individuals living with dementia. Dementia Friendly Glencoe will create a more welcoming and inclusive culture by providing support for individuals diagnosed with dementia, care partners and community members. Dementia Friendly Glencoe aligns with the Welcoming and Inclusive Community pledge adopted by the Village Board and its sister organizations, which has the goal of supporting diversity in the community and emphasizing that all are welcome and included. This initiative will span across community sectors thanks to the support of the Village of Glencoe, Family Service of Glencoe, District 35, Glencoe Park District and Glencoe Library.   
  • Kankakee County
    Colette Jordan
    Cindy DeGroot
  • North Chicago/Lake County
    Colette Jordan
  • River Forest
    Lydia K. Manning
    Helen Kwan
  • Oswego