On Wednesday, April 26, The Outer Banks Hospital (TOBH) will announce its designation as the first Dementia-Friendly Hospital in the state of North Carolina. The event will be held in the hospital’s lobby beginning at 4:30pm and press as well as community members are invited.

Mark Hensley, MA, Dementia Services Coordinator, Division of Aging and Adult Services of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will make the announcement and discuss the importance of this initiative for the Outer Banks community.

“Dementia friendly means recognizing that people with cognitive impairments have special needs and that those who care and provide services for these individuals are trained in best practices,” said Marcia Bryant, TOBH vice president of clinical operations. “We made the decision to lead the way for other Dare County organizations and businesses as well hospitals across the state because North Carolina has the ninth fastest growing senior population in the U.S.”

TOBH staff who interact with and care for patients with dementia have received that best practices training thanks to the support of several community partners, including Dianne Denny, executive director of Spring Arbor, who also serves as chair of the Healthy Carolinians of the Outer Banks’ Dementia Task Force.

According to Hospital-Based Care for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia, between 2008 and 2010, dementia was the third-leading mental health reason for visits to the emergency room for North Carolina adults over 65. People with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia are also hospitalized two to three times more frequently than are non-cognitively impaired peers. As the population ages, these numbers are expected to rise.