In 2017, the Dementia Friendly Washington Heights Task Force was formed in Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood to offer dementia-specific programs at the Woodson Regional Library. The work in the local library was so successful that partnerships developed and expanded with many other organizations in the area.
The current Washington Heights Dementia Friendly Task Force consists of staff from a broad range of programs, including:
- Woodson Library,
- Endeleo Institute,
- Northwestern University Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease,
- Rush College of Nursing,
- Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center,
- University of Chicago’s SHARE Network (a HRSA funded Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program),
- Trinity United Church of Christ,
- Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter
- A Professional and Researcher from Aging Services,
- A family caregiver,
- Raising Raisins (a local family support group), and
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.
The local Area Agency on Aging is also supporting the work of this initiative and will provide resources for the community.
As a result of the work of the Task Force several programs are now happening regularly in the Washington Heights neighborhood. They include:
- arts program for people with dementia, which began as an annual event and is now offered quarterly,
- monthly caregiver support group,
- annual caregiver townhalls, which are used to assess the needs of the community,
- books and other resources available in the library, and,
- dementia training for the library staff.
The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Northwestern Mesulam Center, both of which have a long history of working in Washington Heights, are major forces behind this project. Collaboration between these two organizations, as well as with a variety of other organizations, will serve as the foundation for future efforts. The Task Force meets once a month and is growing in size.
Karen Graham, MA, PhD
Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center
Darby Morhardt, PhD, LCSW
Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine