Care and Dementia in the Suburbs is the first study to examine how neighbourhoods affect the wellbeing of immigrants living with dementia, their families, and professional care workers in suburbs. The project is led by Dr. Samantha Biglieri, an Assistant Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). The project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 


The goal of the study is to help urban planners and municipalities understand how to build neighbourhoods that make people living with dementia feel more comfortable, safe, supported, and included. 


Keep reading to learn more about why we are focusing on dementia, care and immigration.

 Why dementia? 


Contrary to popular belief, people living with dementia are more likely to live in the community than in institutions. However, there has been very little research conducted on the wellbeing of people living with dementia in our communities. People living with dementia face unique challenges in accessing their neighbourhoods when compared with other older adults, like changing abilities, reduced confidence, unsafe community design, and stigma around dementia. 

For people living with dementia, maintaining access to their neighbourhood has many benefits: more social interaction, sense of worth, dignity, and improved mental and physical health. People living with dementia deserve to be able to continue to access their neighbourhoods, just like everyone else. The purpose of this study is to find out how to make that happen.


Why care?


We all live within networks of care, meaning, we are all simultaneously interdependent and vulnerable, and have a responsibility towards others in our communities. Care is more than just caring for someone when they are sick. Care can occur in the world in the most mundane of ways, and the presence of care in our everyday lives contributes to our wellbeing. You can care for your neighbour by saying hello in the morning, or maybe you feel cared for when the grocery store cashier asks how you are doing. Even our cities can be caring places, if they are built in ways that protect us from harm – like building safe street crossings or benches to sit on in the park. This study uses a care lens to guide our project, and ask questions about what can be done to make communities more supportive and inclusive of people living with dementia. 


Why immigrants?


Most existing dementia research is on people who live in the same country they were born in. This does not reflect Canada‚Äôs growing and diverse immigrant population. Research on the impact of the neighbourhood on immigrant populations suggests they are at greater risk for social isolation in terms of belonging and social networks. We also know that place, and where we grew up, plays a role in our memories and sense of belonging. That is why it is so important to understand the experiences of immigrants living with dementia in their neighbourhoods, and to use this information to build more inclusive communities.