STIPO | Urban Planner & Geographer, Creative Placemaker
Co-create tools that allow elderly people diagnosed with dementia to participate in decision making processes that will allow them to move safely and comfortably in public space, while developing the structures of community and caregiving by the neighborhood – for the neighborhood.
Western countries are growing older. In Greece, 21.5% of the population in 2017 (Eurostat data) was over 65 years old. On top of that, 200,000 people in Greece today live with dementia, and this number is expected to triple by 2050 (Alzheimer Athens data).
Elderly, especially those with dementia, are often isolated in their home, to remain safe from an unfriendly urban environment and the “strangers” of their neighborhood. Their voice, and even presence in the public space is absent.
The Path of Memories project addresses several challenges present in the Kaisariani municipality of Athens: decreasing sense of community, the lack of suitable mobility infrastructure, the lack of cohesion among strategies and structures in the municipality and limited interdepartmental collaboration and the weakened citizen participation processes in decision making, planning and implementing when it comes to public space.
Team Kaisariani aims to co-design of proposals for the public space and mobility on a neighborhood level, which allow for safe and comfortable movement of people with dementia; raising awareness and building capacity in the neighborhood in order to create a friendly environment for the people and their families/caregivers; and creating structures in the municipal processes, which allows for the integration, sustainability and transferability of the practice.
Specific project activities were planned and adjusted several times due to covid-19 pandemic restrictions. The activities included the methodology development, the definition of the stakeholders and their role, training sessions for the team and different stakeholder groups, surveys, interviews and walks with the elderly and their caregivers and plenty of meetings for combining the outcomes of each activity in order to enrich our methods and tools.
The last months of the project will be rich in workshops and co-creation activities, especially with caregivers, elderly, different municipal divisions and the general public. With the support of the Hellenic Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (HAGG), the team will document their methodology and toolkit, making it flexible and transferrable to other cities. Together with the elderly, the caregivers and the local community, team Kaisariani will also be implementing awareness & demonstration activities during which symbolic interventions will take place. Lastly, we will work with the municipal divisions involved in the project concerning its sustainability.
Through their project, Team Kaisariani expects to increase the number of citizens that are sensitized to the needs of people living with dementia; increase the number of trained citizens and especially the ones interacting daily with elderly (our project “angels”); and provide guidelines and a toolkit for elderly-friendly spaces and communities.