Dementia Friendly Lehigh Valley

Dementia-Friendly Lehigh Valley seeks to raise awareness of, and reduce the stigma surrounding, Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD). The mission of DFLV is to raise awareness of, and reduce the stigma related to, Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD) among community members and encourage the Lehigh Valley community to become more accessible to and supportive of individuals affected by ADRD, and their caregivers.

Our goals are:

• Raise awareness and reduce stigma through education and outreach endeavors
• Cultivate and confirm commitments from stakeholders and partners
• Leverage existing dementia-friendly community resources
• Share information about best practices with the broader community

The framework for Dementia-Friendly Lehigh Valley (DFLV) began back in 2013 as a committee convened by the Phoebe Center for Excellence in Dementia Care and the Phoebe Institute on Aging in Allentown, PA. The original committee began the process with a needs assessment. This assessment revealed that there were already a large number of existing services and supports available, more than in most areas of the country. This was attributed in large part to the long-term focus on geriatric care in the Lehigh Valley, as evidenced through the geriatric programs at Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network, the active professional networks for geriatric specialists, and the Lehigh Valley Alliance on Aging, which was convened by the United Way. These groups represent early “collective impact” initiatives that helped make the Lehigh Valley a leader in geriatric care, and laid the groundwork for the dementia-friendly work we are currently engaged in. The committee then began to strategically target key partners to engage in the DFLV efforts. We held joint meetings and education sessions with the Chamber of Commerce, local legislators, representatives of the first responders in the Lehigh Valley, Disability Friendly Lehigh Valley Coalition, and faith community leaders. In 2018, Phoebe Ministries provided funding for a series of “community conversations” forums to bring the work to a larger audience and engage more stakeholders. These conversations were facilitated by the Alzheimer’s Association based on a proposed vision to establish Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Lehigh Valley as the three pillars of the Dementia-Friendly Coalition (DFC) across Pennsylvania and carried out in 2018. Shortly after, conversations were initiated with the United Way and DFLV was transferred to the auspices of the United Way as a collective impact effort under the Age Friendly Lehigh Valley initiative. In January 2023, DFLV moved under its new umbrella organization, Humanitarian Social Innovations.

What we do:

• Currently working off of a three-year strategic plan
• Comprised of working groups focusing on professional and community education, awareness and marketing, membership, fundraising, and public advocacy and safety
• Providing ongoing Dementia Friends trainings, a monthly newsletter, and a dementia toolkit

Community Leads

Dr. Kelly O’Shea Carney

DFLV President

Brynn Buskirk

DFLV Vice President

Sandy Massetti

DFLV Treasurer

Kimberly Melusky

DFLV Secretary