In the summer of 2014, DG Matthew Kane chose Alzheimer’s Disease as the project for his year in office. When he visited the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club, he began his speech with three words: “Do something amazing.” Little could he have imagined that his challenge sparked an initiative that has made Orange County a national leader in the effort to help people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
East Chapel Hill member, Lorenzo Mejia, owner of Acorn Home Care Services, is a Dementia Care Specialist and board member on his county Department on Aging. He saw an opportunity to combine county resources with Rotary’s passion for service and contacts with the business community. Dementia Friendly Orange County, www.DFOC.org, was born.
Conducted in partnership with the Orange County Department on Aging, DFOC is an effort to train local businesses about dementia. Employees go through an awareness training that takes about 90 minutes. They learn what dementia is and how to recognize it in their customers. They learn various ways they can make themselves more accommodating to people with dementia.
Orange County is the first community in North Carolina, and one of the first nationally, to have a Dementia Friendly training program. Funding for the effort has been provided by East Chapel Hill Rotary Club. Additional funding has been generously given by Chapel Hill’s Sunrise Rotary Club.
To date, DFOC has approximately 60 organizations, spanning private and public sectors and for and non-profit.