City Councilmember Joe Gebbia says he wants Brookhaven to become a “Dementia Friendly City,” a designation from the organization Dementia Friendly America.

The designation is earned once a community puts in place such goals as the adoption of dementia friendly practices. Bringing together government, clinical and community-based organizations to raise awareness of dementia is also part of the program.

“This is an opportunity for us to listen and then learn what we can do as a community to help those afflicted with dementia,” said Gebbia in a news release. “We’re looking at instituting programs that will enhance the quality of life for not only those affected, but their families as well.”

At the City Council’s Feb. 11 work session, Dr. William Hu, associate professor of Neurology at Emory University, said he estimated there were 800 Brookhaven residents living with dementia.

“That may not seem like a lot, but if you take into account how many people [know someone with dementia], we may be talking about 16,000 people this disease will affect,” Hu said, according to the news release.

“The goal is to become a lead influencer and catalyst for change,” Hu said.

Robin Andrews Smith, an aging and dementia advocate, said there are 47.5 million people living with dementia worldwide. There are 15 million American family members who provide unpaid health care to people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, she said.

Andrews Smith estimated that there were 140,000 persons in Georgia diagnosed with dementia in 2018 and expects that number to grow to 190,000 by 2025, according to the release. Andrews Smith estimated more than 8,000 DeKalb County residents are living with dementia.

“This is a problem that needs to be discussed and brought out into the open as it affects the quality of life for many of our citizens and residents in our great city,” Gebbia said. “I am very proud of my fellow council members for unanimously supporting increasing the awareness and developing training for City employees concerning this important topic.”