Momentia (rhymes with dementia) is an arts-based movement targeting persons with dementia and their care partners
that “celebrates life in the moment.” It is a strengths-based grassroots movement to empower and energize those impacted by memory loss to remain connected and active in the community. It encourages them to take the lead in organizing a wide variety of dementia-friendly recreational activities that typically take place in “age neutral” public venues. Such activities include art classes, music, folk dance, improv, community gardening and walking groups, or simply hanging out at a Memory Cafe. Being involved in selecting and creating these activities enables persons with dementia to develop and participate in dementia-friendly communities, as they would like them to be.
While not minimizing the challenges that accompany this disease, the movement encourages a positive, strengths-based stance that focuses on remaining abilities of persons with dementia to engage in and enjoy activities they find meaningful and to engage in and give back to the community. Momentia endorses the “new dementia story,” which proposes a radical rethinking of dementia life experiences: “(1) There is life beyond a diagnosis — a life that includes the possibility for joy in the midst of challenge. (2) Persons living with dementia remain a vital part of the community and deserve the opportunity to stay connected and engaged. (3) Persons living with dementia are the experts on their own experience and their valuable perspectives must be recognized. (4) By working together we can transform what it means to live with dementia in the community, changing the story from one of despair to one of hope.” (www.momentiaseattle.org/new-page-4).
Local Momentia organizers work in teams of 8–12 community members and organizations and include persons with dementia, care partners, and persons working in dementia-friendly programs. Team members meet quarterly, maintain the website, mentor program development, and orchestrate events. The “Guiding Principles” of the movement require that any Momentia event: (1) Celebrates the strengths of persons living with dementia and includes their voices in decision-making and implementing programs; (2) Is open to the public and publicized to include both persons with dementia and all other members of the community, and takes place in a community setting; and (3) Involves an opportunity for engagement and empowerment in the community, a chance to connect with others and to make a difference.
Momentia has the potential to impact those without dementia, as well. Momentia events are inclusive; anyone in the community can join them and are encouraged to do so. This level of participation requires that community members be “dementia aware,” i.e., informed about dementia, committed to principles of inclusion, respectful and lending support as needed.
Hawai‘i is taking a big step toward developing dementia awareness through the Dementia Friends initiative, which is a partnership between Age-Friendly Honolulu, the Hawaii Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative at UH, and the State Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias taskforce. It offers brief seminars on the basics of dementia to community groups and encourages participants to then use that knowledge to engage in positive interactions of some kind. For information, go to: