Dementia Friendly Initiatives: A State of the Science Review

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Background: Dementia friendly initiatives share similarities with the age-friendly movement in a focus on active engagement and creating a good quality of life for older adults. Dementia friendly initiatives offer a welcoming optimistic narrative in dementia studies by embracing dignity, empowerment, and autonomy to enable well-being throughout the dementia trajectory. Purpose: The purpose of this review is to explore the current science of dementia friendly initiatives, identify gaps, and inform future research. Method: Quantitative, qualitative, and conceptual/theoretical peer-reviewed dementia friendly research literature were evaluated for their current evidence base and theoretical underpinnings. Results: The dementia friendly initiatives research base is primarily qualitative and descriptive focused on environmental design, dementia awareness and education, and the development of dementia friendly communities. Person-centered care principles appear in dementia friendly initiatives centered in care settings. Strong interdisciplinary collaboration is present. Research is needed to determine the effect of dementia friendly initiatives on stakeholder-driven and community-based outcomes. Due to the contextual nature of dementia, the perspective of persons with dementia should be included as dementia friendly initiatives are implemented. Theory-based studies are needed to confirm dementia friendly initiative components and support rigorous evaluation. Dementia friendly initiatives broaden the lens from which dementia is viewed.