The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Oak Park seeks dementia friendly designation

As the population of Oak Park ages, local leaders have recognized the growing need to increase awareness and recognition of the signs of dementia and to teach people to communicate and interact with individuals living with the debilitating condition.

With this in mind, the Village has partnered with the Oak Park Township, Oak Park Library and Park District of Oak Park to have the Village designated as a Dementia Friendly Community by the non-profit organization Dementia Friendly America.

What is a dementia-friendly community?
A dementia-friendly community is a village, town, city or county that is informed, safe and respectful of individuals with the disease, their families and caregivers, and provides supportive options that help improve quality of life.

Local governments in dementia-friendly communities plan and implement housing, transportation, public spaces and emergency response strategies that enable people with dementia and their care partners to live productive lives.

The goal, officials say, is to ensure people with dementia can live independently for as long as possible and be engaged in the community and its activities.

Adopting such approaches is critical, officials say, because more than five million Americans are living with dementia linked to Alzheimer’s disease, a number that is expected to grow as the population ages.

An estimated 230,000 individuals afflicted with the condition live in Illinois, a number that is projected to increase to 260,000 people by 2025.

Local officials estimate that nearly 800 Oak Park residents 65 and older may now be living with dementia.

The Oak Park approach
The Village’s Aging in Place Commission is leading the effort to develop an action plan for making Oak Park a dementia-friendly community.

These citizen volunteers, all of whom are at least 55 years old or represent organizations that provide services to local seniors, are charged with advising the Village Board on policies that facilitate aging in place.

The process to earn the Dementia Friendly Community designation got underway in October with a gathering of interested citizens, community leaders and other stakeholders to begin crafting the action plan.

Future Steps
Seeking the dementia-friendly designation is not just about the action of Village government, officials say.
Individuals of all ages and organizations private, public and faith-based must work together for the local effort to produce tangible outcomes beyond earning a designation.

For more information about the local dementia-friendly initiative — or to get involved in the process of helping make Oak Park dementia-friendly — call 708.358.5420 or email

Information on the local effort and links to a wide range of resources are posted on the Village website at

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.
For more information, visit or call 800.272.3900.