What do we need to do to become a Naples Unites Partner Site?

We ask that you display the Naples Unites logo in your storefront window or use the counter top display that we will provide you. Much like the Yellow Ribbon is a symbol of support for the troops, displaying the Naples Unites logo shows your commitment to the goal of the program. Together we will make Naples a truly Cognitively Kind Community.

What does it cost to become a Naples Unites Partner Site?

Nothing. This is a free program. This program is designed and offered by the Alzheimer’s Support Network, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides all programs and services free of charge. The Alzheimer’s Support Network was founded in Naples Florida in 1982, and is committed to providing quality care for those with Alzheimer’s and related diseases and their care partners (caregivers).

What exactly do we mean when we say: Understanding, Respect, Kindness and Dignity?

Understand that people with neurocognitive conditions, like Alzheimer’s, have damage to their brain. Their actions and behaviors can be the result of this damage. This is important to understand if someone with a cognitive condition acts in inappropriate ways. Seeing their actions as the result of their disease, and not under their control, makes it easier to offer the kindness that they need. Knowing they would be acting differently if they could makes it easier to find the sympathy that they deserve. We know this can be difficult for everyone involved. The path forward starts with understanding.

Respect of one’s humanity is a human right. Respect is a human need. Those who have Alzheimer’s have not relinquished this need for respect because of the disease. There is no need to talk about someone with Alzheimer’s in front of them. This is often done thinking they do not understand or thinking they will forget. There is no need to disrespect someone just because they have a disease. As one patient said: “because I have Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean I have been freed of my humanity. It doesn’t mean you are free to talk about me and around me, as if I no longer count, as if I’m not here.” You know when you are being disrespected. It is something you feel. People with cognitive conditions (like Alzheimer’s) are often very attuned to your attitudes about them. Use respect as a verb.

A smile can light the dimmest of paths. A friendly word will help identify you as a friend. Imagine your world is slipping away from you. Imagine you feel lost where once you belonged. Imagine the unspoken fear. Can you see how a kind word, a loving touch can make a smile form from a tear?

Imagine you have Alzheimer’s, could you hear yourself saying:
I have lived a life of purpose and meaning. I have compiled distinctions and achievements, even medals and awards. I have watched my kids grow and have seen them become parents. I have a lifetime of memories to share. Now when I am positioned to pass along all that I have learned, all of this is leaving me. The skills I worked a lifetime to tune are becoming rusty, run down, and depleted. The knowledge at my fingertips is slipping further and further away. The names of places in which I once stood are no longer names I can recall. And standing still becomes a chore. I am unsure of where I am, how I got here, or how I will get home. I feel frightened, and lost, and maybe angry. I can’t control my brain like I once could, and now it seems to control me. What I wouldn’t normally do become things I think I should be doing. What I need most from you is to help me, comfort me, and keep me safe. Yelling at me, telling me you told me so, and asking me to do what I cannot is causing me pain. And treating me as if I was a child is only hurting me more. What I need is dignity and for you to find in me a person you once adored.

What if our business does not provide care?

Many businesses will say: We sell hammers or swimsuits. We are not in the business of caring for people with Alzheimer’s.

It is important to realize that any interchange with someone with Alzheimer’s or another neurocognitive disease is an instance of providing care. This is true, whether you know it or not. A brief minute long exchange with someone with a cognitive condition can have lasting effects on that person. This is true for a positive encounter resulting in a lasting sense of good will. And it is certainly true with a negative encounter that can cause distress and disruption far beyond the exchange.

You are providing Care to someone with Alzheimer’s every time you interact with them. It can be good care or bad. Your actions can have a profound effect.

We are not in the business of providing care and cannot afford the time, effort, and money to undergo extensive training of our staff. Should we join?

Absolutely! We understand this. And we are not asking you to commit to that level of effort. It takes extensive training and years of hands on experience to be truly skilled in working with people who have neurocognitive diseases. We do not expect the Naples Unites Partner Sites to undergo this type of training. The Naples Unites program does not certify that our partner sites have extensive expertise in skilled cognitive care. Instead, the Naples Unites program asks our partner sites to commit to the goal of making Naples a cognitively kind community by following simple, straight forward principles in all their interactions. We ask that you treat people who have cognitive conditions with understanding, respect, kindness, and dignity.

We will work with every partner site to help them fully understand these principles, and will provide both printed and online materials to help guide them. In addition, the Alzheimer’s Support Network pledges to work with every partner site providing assistance to help with situations that occur at your place of business.

What benefit is there for a business when they become a Naples Unites Partner Site?

There are many benefits to becoming a partner site. First, you join a host of well-respected businesses and nonprofits that have already joined this program and you will help lead the way locally, nationally and internationally. You are showing that your business respects the rights and enhances the sense of wellbeing of those who have cognitive conditions. The good will that your business and its employees will receive by being part of this program will translate into greater customer appreciation.

In addition, your business will be featured as a Partner Site on the Naples Unites website. The Alzheimer’s Support Network and other organizations will refer to the Partner Site List when directing families to locations where their loved ones will receive the principles of positive care: kindness, dignity, respect, and understanding.

We invite all businesses to take a photo of the Naples Unites decal in their storefront window and we will post those photos on the Naples Unites site as a growing gallery of our partner site locations.

Furthermore, as a partner site you will have access to online training materials, and regular opportunities to interact with Alzheimer’s Support Network staff to help you problem solve and develop specialized skills.

Why do you use the term “cognitive condition” and “neurocognitive disease” rather than “Dementia?”

There are several reasons we do not use the term dementia. First and foremost, to this day, dementia is defined as a mental illness. Dementia comes from Latin roots and means: out of one’s mind. Demented is a derivative term that is commonly known to mean: crazy or insane. In no way do we wish to promote the idea of calling someone with Alzheimer’s crazy.

Instead we use the term “neurocognitive diseases” because this more accurately reflects the fact that the behaviors often attributed to Alzheimer’s and related diseases are the result of a neurodegenerative disease process. Alzheimer’s is not a mental illness and should not be treated as such.

Furthermore, there is tremendous confusion about what “dementia” means. Neurologists, Neuropsychologists, Geriatricians, and other professionals tend to apply differing criteria to the term “dementia.” Due to this lack of coherence and the great misconceptions in the public relating to this term, we wish to start fresh with clearer language that accurately depicts the condition.

Therefore, we have purposely avoided such terms as “dementia friendly.” The goal of the Naples Unites Program is to have all of Naples provide Compassionate Cognitive Care.

The vision of this program is a future when someone with Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Bodies, Huntington’s, or any other neurocognitive condition can go into any store or shop in Naples Florida and be treated with dignity, respect, kindness, and understanding.

We want to send into the distant past those days when people with cognitive conditions are belittled, made fun of, disrespected, or ignored. We want Naples to stand apart as a city committed to caring for those with cognitive conditions, welcoming them, and knowing how to do the little things that will make a big difference.

Little things like: Smile. Listen. Take your time. Reassure.

You might have to speak slower. You might have to be clearer. You might have to break down instructions into smaller steps. You will have to be more patient. You will have to be positive. You will have to care!