Qualicum Beach mayor wants town to be a leader in the Dementia Friendly Communities movement

'It will be a gradual step — not overnight,' says Teunis Westbroek

Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek says he wants to work with council to make the town a leader in Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC).

Westbroek said he wants to work toward steps to become a DFC.

“It will be a gradual step — not overnight,” Westbroek said at a by-invitation town hall meeting on Dementia Friendly Communities.

Qualicum Beach resident Ken Ross, 87, has dementia.

“I have it, and I know it,” said Ross. “I don’t feel any different than I ever did.”

His daughter Barb Empson said they began to really notice Ross’ dementia about a year ago. She added the best thing to do is to keep busy and to not treat people with dementia any differently.

Making a municipality a DFC is not about trying to attract more people with dementia, but instead trying to make the community more inclusive to people with dementia, according to Marc Wortmann.

Wortmann, who is the executive director of London-based Alzheimer’s Disease International, was one of the speakers at Wednesday’s (July 20) meeting.

Wortmann said a DFC can be compared to the disability movement where people campaigned for easier mobility.

“Now it’s very normal if you build a new building that you look at how accessible is it. That’s what we want for dementia as well.”

Wortmann said people can look into their community to see what their store owners or town council can do to educate their staff.

“If people have an understanding of the disease, they might be able to guide people who are wandering and to identify that this is a person that is lost.”