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Orland Park Business Promotes Dementia Friendly Community

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

by Owens Media, Inc.

for Orland/Homer Neighbors Magazine

photos by Scott Duff


ORLAND PARK, IL – Aishling Dalton Kelly, CEO of Aishling Care Academy and Aishling Companion Home Care, and Betsy Dine, fire and life safety education coordinator for the Orland Fire Protection District, are on a mission to make Orland Park a dementia friendly community.


Kelly and Dine co-chair the Orland Park Dementia Task Force, facilitated by the fire protection district.


“There are more and more calls sending first responders to houses for non-emergencies where they find an 87-year-old woman taking care of her 89-year-old husband with dementia,” Kelly said. “These non-emergency calls will continue to increase as the baby boomer generation ages. Other surrounding towns are experiencing the same types of calls.”


Kelly explained that the idea for Orland Park to become more dementia friendly originated from the collaborations with the fire district’s Conversations and Coffee Meetings. Kelly and Dine co-host the monthly group for local residents to educate seniors on different topics.


“We created this group for our seniors to enjoy and attend as a social gathering in addition to giving them much needed resources,” Kelly said.


“The task force was created to help reduce the stigma that surrounds the word dementia and to educate people on the disease itself,” Kelly said, adding, “We want to facilitate a better understanding of how dementia affects people and their family members and how persons with dementia should be treated in and around the community.”


“People don’t know how to comprehend or communicate with persons with dementia and sadly, for that reason and others, the person with dementia and their family members remain isolated in their homes,” she explained.



During their research, Kelly and Dine discovered that there are numerous dementia friendly villages in the State of Illinois and throughout the U.S. Illinois currently has the most dementia friendly communities in the country, a designation granted by the national Dementia Friendly America.


“A dementia friendly community is one that is taking action to foster change for a better quality of life for people living with dementia and their care partners by decreasing stigma, increasing opportunities for meaningful social interaction, and offering support in addressing the changes required for people living with dementia,” reads the national organization’s website.


Kelly explained that she and Dine worked on Orland Park’s application during the pandemic shut down. “It was a lengthy application,” she said. “We had to showcase those businesses in the community that were willing to work with us to move the dementia friendly application forward.”


Kelly brings a host of credentials to the task force including being a certified Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia care trainer, a certified first responder trainer and a certified Montessori dementia care professional from the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners.


Kelly spent more than a year training Orland Fire Protection District personnel, leading multiple sessions to teach all 120 first responders from six stations and three shifts trained. Orland Fire personnel are certified first responder-dementia trained through the national council



“Fire district personnel learned different techniques on how to approach people who have dementia,” Kelly said.


Communication is a big focus session in the first responders’ trainings certification “Persons with dementia don’t always interpret current situations correctly and for that reason your approach has to be different. They can’t change their perception of situations so in essence you have to change yours.”


The Dementia Friendly Orland Park website at dementiafriendlyorlandpark.org serves as a centralized source of information for those caring for people with dementia and for the community. The group also has a Facebook page.


“There’s an area on the website with a CAD form – computer aided dispatch – that will alert first responders that there is a person in the house they are responding to that has a form of dementia,” Kelly said.


People can register themselves or a loved one privately on the website or in person at the Orland Fire Protection District, 9788 West 151 st Street.


“This way, if there is an emergency call to 9-1-1, both police and fire responders are aware,” Kelly said, adding, “The website also includes information and a mini course for local businesses and their employees to complete dementia friendly training.”


“It takes just a few minutes for businesses to register and it gives very basic information for what to look for and how to respond to customers with dementia,” Kelly explained.


“We want family members to be able to bring loved ones out to the library, the bank, a restaurant or even the grocery store,” she said. “Trained employees will be able to recognize that something is different and employees may reach out to ask if they can help and make their visit more enjoyable and less confusing.”


One of the main goals for dementia friendly Orland Park is to create a Memory Café, a gathering safe place for those with dementia and those providing the care to a person with dementia. The group is looking for volunteers needed to begin and help with the Memory Care. Those interested can use the contact us page on the Dementia Friendly Orland Park website.


“The Memory Café would need no registration,” Kelly said. “Guests would just show up. The person with dementia could attend with their family member of caregiver. We would have an activity, music, trivia and a snack for all those in attendance.”


Task force member organizations include the Orland Fire Protection District, local government officials, Illinois State Senator Bill Cunningham, Illinois State Representative Fran Hurley, the Orland Park Public Library, the Orland Park Police Department, Pathways, Council on Aging, Sterk Family Law Group, Kerlin Walsh Law and many other local businesses.


Dementia Friendly Orland Park is a 5013c tax exempt organization.


“There is no need for families to be embarrassed because their family member has dementia,” Kelly said. “Dementia is so very common. We want residents to have a dementia friendly community that embraces them with respect, compassion and patience. Is that not what community is all about?”


Learn more about the Dementia Friendly Orland Park Program at https://dementiafriendlyorlandpark.org/


Do you know someone who has an interesting story to share in Orland Park, Tinley Park or Homer Glen? Let us know! Send suggestions to owensmediainc@gmail.com.





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