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City of Washington designated 'dementia friendly.' Here's what that means

A fountain sits in front of businesses in Washington's town square.
Tim Shelley
This fountain is at the middle of Washington's town square. Manier says businesses throughout the square and town will undergo training to provide more support for community members with dementia.

Washington is officially designated as a “dementia friendly city.”

Mayor Gary Manier says the title comes from the organization Dementia Friendly America. Washington is one of 30 cities in Illinois with the distinction and Manier says it’s the only one within a six-county radius in Central Illinois.

“It's just an opportunity for us to remind people that we are here to help,” said Manier. “This will actually, you know, police, fire, our businesses, we will try to get everybody to take that training to recognize those that have dementia.”

The training is provided by Dementia Friendly America and can be done in meetings or online. Manier says the city’s first responders have all received the training or will receive it. Washington businesses can take the course online and receive a sticker from the organization marking them as a “dementia friendly business.”

“It's just a matter of how to recognize someone that may be suffering from this awful disease that they have,” said Manier. “And we want to help them in every way we can. And if it's just a matter of a simple bank withdrawal or buying something at one of our stores on the square, if the people can recognize it, it'd be very helpful.”

Manier gives examples of helping people with dementia make a purchase, find their car, or return home after getting lost.

You can find more information about the program, and how other cities can get the designation here.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.