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Did you know that more than 1,300 residents of Missoula County currently live with dementia? They are your neighbors, family members and customers. This population is growing, and the strain that caregivers and patients feel should not be theirs alone.

The Missoula Coalition on Aging and Disability (MCOAD) is a volunteer group of citizens representing service providers, caregivers and people with dementia. MCOAD is focused on reducing stigma and providing dementia education, with the goal of developing dementia friendly practices throughout Missoula.

As Montana State University nursing students, we worked with the passionate members of MCOAD this semester. They helped us better understand dementia, caregiver needs and patients’ desires to remain involved in their community.

Over the last few months, there have been multiple events focused on making Missoula more dementia-friendly. Speakers from around the country have shared their ideas and successes.

Last week, following a conference presented by the Montana Geriatric Education Center, attendees left excited and energized with new thoughts on how to help those with dementia feel welcome and appreciated in Missoula.

If you are interested in helping our community become more dementia friendly, call Missoula Aging Services, 406-728-7682, to get involved with MCOAD.

Lauren Wepprecht,

Keith Efland,

Missoula

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