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Cleveland Heights Named to Dementia Friendly America Network of Communities

By Audra Kessler-Bennett | | August 2021

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging to Serve as Champion Organization for the Initiative


CLEVELAND – The City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio has been designated as a member of the Network of Communities by Dementia Friendly America®, a multi-sector, national collaborative on a mission to foster communities that are equipped to support people with dementia and their family and friend care partners by working to become “dementia friendly.”

Communities designated as dementia friendly are committed to providing educational programming and necessary improvements to prepare all sectors to address the growing opportunities and needs faced by people living with dementia and their care partners. 

A cross-sector Advisory Team was established in Cleveland Heights, with support from Northeast Ohio Medical University’s Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, to discuss opportunities to work together to improve the lives of individuals with dementia and their care partners in Cleveland Heights.

The Advisory Team includes individuals impacted by dementia, representatives from the local Area Agency on Aging, local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, faith-based organizations, health care providers, first responders, other community-based organizations, government and the local library system. The group took a leadership role in implementing and evaluating the impact of Dementia Friends educational sessions conducted within the city, and members acted within their organizations to become more dementia friendly, including forming dementia taskforces and developing a memory kit program at area libraries.

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging is serving as the Champion organization responsible for coordinating activities of the Advisory Team and for continuing to connect local organizations with the important work of Dementia Friendly America.

“In September 2020 we hosted a virtual event in Cleveland Heights to introduce the idea of developing a dementia friendly community, and we were overwhelmed by the incredible response we received with over 100 people in attendance,” said Jennifer Cardellini, Director for Consumer Information at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. “After the event, we knew the City of Cleveland Heights was deeply committed to this important work.”

The dementia friendly initiative in Cleveland Heights is multi-faceted and ongoing. The Cleveland Heights Advisory Team next plans to engage with other organizations that show an interest in Dementia Friends and will soon develop subcommittees that will focus on walkability and transportation, branding, education and programming.

 “Our hope is to continue to inspire our community to take action and to increase supports for all of our co-workers, friends, family members, and neighbors impacted by dementia,” said Sarah Nicolay, Research Assistant at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.    

There are currently over 120 Dementia Friendly America communities across the country, some that are statewide, some that county-wide, and some that are city specific. This initiative is one of several taking place in Northeast Ohio to build dementia friendly communities. Benjamin Rose is proud to direct an Administration for Community Living project that will expand work beyond Cleveland Heights and offer supportive services and dementia education to create dementia-capable communities in urban Cuyahoga County and rural Athens and Washington Counties. Additionally, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging is a part of other projects across the state and in other areas of the country focused on similar work.

“As a resident of Cleveland Heights who lives with early-stage dementia, I am very grateful and look forward to working on this initiative in the months and years to come. Thanks to Benjamin Rose for your leadership!” said Tracey Lind, Episcopal Priest, Writer, Author, Photographer and Dementia Advocate living in Cleveland Heights with Frontotemporal Degeneration.

About Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging: Founded in 1908, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging ( is a nationally recognized Cleveland-based nonprofit whose mission is to support caregivers and empower all people to age well through research, consumer-responsive services and client advocacy.