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2,500+ people, health professionals certified as Dementia Friends

A year after launching the initiative Dementia Friends Puerto Rico of the Alzheimer Association and Triple-S, more than 2,500 people have been certified as Dementia Friends, among them doctors, church members, caregivers and people who want to be more empathetic and inclusive with those who have Alzheimer or other dementias.

On Oct. 21, 60 people in Loíza completed their training to offer the one-hour workshop that allow people to become Dementia Friends. That day, 40 doctors were certified as Dementia Friends at an event organized by Triple-S.

In Puerto Rico there are 28,000 people registered with an Alzheimer diagnosis with the Puerto Rico Health Department. Yet, it is estimated that there are 60,000 people with Alzheimer in Puerto Rico and about 40,000 with other dementias, said Ana Gratacós, president of the Alzheimer Association. Currently, Alzheimer is the fourth cause of death in Puerto Rico.

“This initiative seeks to increase the number of people who are sensitized to understand and treat people with dementia so they can continue to be part of the community as long as possible, benefitting those living with these conditions, their families, the community and the health system,” said Lydia Figueroa, director of Enlace Comunitario of Triple-S and director of the Triple-S Foundation.

Meanwhile, Gratacós explained that the initiative is designed to create “a more inclusive and welcoming society for people with dementias. The more integrated they are in the community, the more cognitive stimulation they have.”

The Dementia Friends movement was founded in England and since then has expanded to many parts of the world. In Puerto Rico, it was established in 2017, yet it began to grow at a faster pace after September 2021 when it has relaunched as a joint initiative of the Alzheimer Association and Triple-S.

“Puerto Rico has the highest share of seniors who are 65 and older in the U.S.,21.8%, which means there is a greater risk for dementias among the elderly. That is why we have the responsibility to support initiatives that consider this population,” said Figueroa.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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