How can we create supportive neighbourhoods for immigrants living with dementia and their caregivers in suburbs?
The places we live in can have a big influence on our health and wellbeing, and this is no different for people living with dementia and the people that care for them. Contrary to popular belief, most people living with dementia live at home in the community and they deserve to access the outdoors like anyone else.
While dementia can cause changes in communication, memory and judgement – previous research has shown that for people living with dementia – continuing to access their neighbourhood means improved mental, social and physical wellbeing. Crucially, we know that social and built environments can either support or prevent people living with dementia from accessing their neighbourhoods. This could mean how they interact with people in their neighbourhood, or how far parks, shops and community centres are from their home, to how comfortable it is to walk and cross streets to using public transportation systems.
However, the existing research has tended to ignore the unique experiences of immigrants in suburban areas, and how people create networks of care in their own communities to be able to live well. The Care and Dementia in Suburbs project was created to address this gap in Scarborough, Ontario – the most diverse area of the biggest city in Canada.
The goal of this study is to help urban planners and municipalities understand how to build neighbourhoods that make people living with dementia, their families and professional careworkers feel comfortable, safe, supported, and included.