Tennessee Dementia Friendly Communities

The 2019 Edition of the State Health Plan features a “deep-dive” into cognitive and brain health across the lifespan in the State. The Office of Patient Care Advocacy in partnership with the Office of Health Planning and Minority Health and Disparities elimination, held ten listening sessions to help inform three recommendations that the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) would be responsible for implementing in order to better support the public in their understanding of risk factors associated with cognitive decline, while supporting those living
with cognitive decline and their caregivers.

One of the recommendations that resulted from the focus groups was the support and implementation of dementia friendly communities. A dementia friendly community framework focuses on reducing the stigma  associated with cognitive decline and including those with an Alzheimer’s or other related dementias (ADOD) diagnosis in the community as much as possible through activities of daily living. The term community can mean a location like a neighborhood or city, but may also include groups of people with shared interests and features, such as professional groups, faith-based organizations or business. A dementia friendly community focuses on educating the public, businesses and government entities, healthcare providers, first responders, and other key members of the community on effective strategies for working with individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

Modeling best practices from other states and communities, TDH has developed a TN Dementia Friendly community toolkit to help guide communities on their journey. Each community is different, so the starting point might look different. Communities are encouraged to utilize sections of the toolkit that work best for the needs of the population they are serving. As the program grows, the toolkit will continuously be updated and include new information and resources, so be sure to continue to check the website for updates. All materials provided on this site are for public consumption and may be downloaded at no cost.

We would like to thank the following individuals/organizations for reviewing pieces of the toolkit and providing input:

  • Chelsea Ridley, MPH, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Crystal Lemus, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Amy French, Alzheimer’s Association
  • Dr. Jon Vick, PhD, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Dr. Linda Nichols, Ph.D., M.A., B.A.,Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • Dr. William Petrie, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Elizabeth Jones, MA, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Erika Kirtz, MPH, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Harlyn Hardin, Alzheimer’s Association
  • J.W. Randolph, MPH, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Kristi Wick, DNP, FNP-BC, GS-C, University of Tennessee Chattanooga
  • Pat Caron, Alzheimer’s Tennessee
  • Regina Smith, West Tennessee Healthcare

Contact Chelsea Ridley (Chelsea.Ridley@tn.gov) for more information.


Current Tennessee Dementia Friendly Efforts

In 2019 The Tennesee Department of Health (TDH) offered small grants to support and expand existing dementia education and support efforts. TDH awarded Tennessee Dementia Friendly Community grants to the following grantees:

  • Jackson-Madison General Hospital
  • Memorial Healthcare
  • University Tennessee at Chattanooga

These grantees will implement strategies outlined in the toolkit in their local communiteis to raise awareness about dementia and further meet the needs of those in their communites living with dementia and their caregivers. To learn more about the grantees and their respective projects, contact PatientAdvocacy.Health@tn.gov.

Although not funded by TDH, Knoxville, Tennessee was one of the nation's first Dementia Friendly Cities and serves as a model for other cities across the United States. Click here to learn more about the Purple Cities Alliance and the efforts that exist in Knoxville.

To learn more about the initiative, contact PatientAdvocacy.Health@tn.gov.