The city and county of Los Angeles announced Thursday they have joined Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles on a campaign to spread awareness of dementia.

The campaign aims to change the way people think, talk and act about the illness, and to encourage county and city employees — along with members of the public — to become “Dementia Friends.”

“Each of us can play a significant part in making sure that Los Angeles County provides a supportive environment for those with various forms of dementia,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Sheila Kuehl said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile and a kind word to make those impacted by dementia feel welcome in our communities.”

Joining the Dementia Friends campaign requires completion of a short online or in-person session that “empowers participants to support those with dementia in their communities and to reduce the stigma associated with this illness.”

“Making Los Angeles the most age-friendly city in the world means changing the conversation around dementia — because a lack of understanding shouldn’t keep us from giving our loved ones the compassion and support they deserve,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “This initiative will help us better understand what dementia is, how it affects us, and what we can do to make a difference in people’s lives.”

The program is being organized through the county and city’s Purposeful Aging Los Angeles initiative, which aims to prepare the Los Angeles region for a rapidly aging population expected to double by 2025.

“I believe we can improve the lives of those living with dementia by increasing understanding and awareness throughout the greater community,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis. “That’s why I authored a motion in 2016 to prepare our region to better serve our aging population by launching the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles initiative. I am proud to be a `Dementia Friend’ to show people in the community that we are here to help.”

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