DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — DeKalb County hosted a drive-thru kick off event at the Lou Walker Senior Center in Stonecrest on May 26, 2021, to celebrate its efforts to become Georgia’s first dementia-friendly county.

Officials are partnering with Dementia Spotlight Foundation and Dementia Friends Georgia to provide resources to the community. “We want support in the community. We want people to be educated, to understand dementia, to not be afraid to talk to someone,” said Debra Furtado, an administrator with the DeKalb County Human Services Department.

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Dementia Spotlight Foundation’s Executive Director and Co-founder Whitney Oeltmann knows all too well how much that support is needed. “My motivation mainly was 10 years ago. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimers, and through the journey my mother and I had of taking care of him,” she said. She lost her dad three years ago, and it’s a way to honor his memory. “For this to happen, it’s huge for me,” said Oeltmann.

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It’s an all too familiar journey for millions of people. Reports show there were more than 150,000 Georgians ages 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease in 2020. That number is expected to grow to 190,000 by 2025. This partnership will create resources and programs to help families in DeKalb, including a memory cafe where patients and families can socialize. ”When you take care of a loved one, you need more community support, so that’s where we really started with it,” Oeltmann said.

County officials say they’re glad to play a role in providing these much needed services. “Lou Walker Center is a designated spot for us to have these types of conversations. So I’m excited about it. I think this is a great first step,” said District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson.

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He says they envision having a memory care campus and center in the future to meet the needs of families.