Our mission

No one has to walk the dementia journey alone.

Why “Dementia Together”?

How do we do it?

We listen to the expert advice of people living with dementia to design education and enrichment programs that bring hope.

Education

Training for care partners, professionals, and community groups to create a culture of kindness and compassion.

Enrichment

Helping people impacted by dementia to live well through connections, programs, coaching, and support groups.

Hope

Providing answers and help for now while joining efforts to improve outcomes in the future.

Our Impact

“My husband benefited from the knowledge I learned… It made his life more enjoyable and meaningful.”
– Karel Applebee, care partner support group member and Contented Dementia class participant

Our Approach: Positive, person-directed, family-driven care

We offer education and support for family care partners of loved ones living with dementia.  We help staff in businesses, health care, senior care, and community service learn dementia-friendly communication strategies.   With three SPECAL® Practitioners on staff, credentialed by the Contented Dementia Trust in England, we are leading North America in introducing participants to the SPECAL® Method for sustaining lifelong well-being for people experiencing dementia.

We teach highly practical strategies which are based on an understanding of dementia as a simple disability which can be positively  managed.  By understanding dementia through the framework of a simple and highly effective way of explaining how it feels to experience dementia, using the analogy of the SPECAL® Photograph Album. (The Contented Dementia Trust, Burford, England), creating and sustaining well-being become possible.  We are conducting evidence-based research with Colorado State University on the impact of using SPECAL®.  Our preliminary findings are consistent with the UK research from King’s College London.  

Our education starts with helping family care partners learn 3 Golden Rules:

Don’t ask direct questions.

Listen to the expert.

Don’t contradict.

The experts are the people living with dementia. The SPECAL® approach invites us to listen to them and learn from them.  “The SPECAL® Photograph Album leads to a set of guiding principles and a practical, positive approach to the management of dementia – the SPECAL® method.    Without understanding of the photograph album analogy, the 3 Golden Rules may be misunderstood as limiting choice when in reality, they do the exact opposite.

The SPECAL® method can be learned and used by anyone who cares for a person with dementia.”

Listening to the expert, understanding what the disability of recent facts no longer storing efficiently actually feels like, allows us to stop using condescending, patronizing verbiage such as “white lies, therapeutic fibbing, or creative deception” that are all too common in dementia care.  At Dementia Together, we have coined the terms humble deferral® and compassionate deferral® to replace the unnecessarily negative terms often used in dementia care when SPECAL principles are not understood.

Our approach to dementia care enables us to be recognized as an “in the meantime” organization, helping people discover that “in the meantime,” until cures for the various causes of dementia are found, we can make life changing differences NOW for people striving to live well with dementia.  The SPECAL® practitioner consultations and workshops provide families a framework and specific tools, techniques, mantras, and ongoing assistance to develop and maintain a personalized profile of key ingredients needed to ensure their loved ones are able to live with lifelong well-being.

New SPECAL® coaches and practitioners are in training here in Northern Colorado, and we are honored to provide mentorship to them so we can better keep up with the requests for services in the months and years ahead as word is spread about the tangible hope that SPECAL provides.

Our Story

Originally Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado®, Dementia Together started as a volunteer initiative under the umbrella of Partnership for Age Friendly Communities.  We offered one care partner support group and one memory cafe at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, CO.  In November 2015, we embarked on a dementia-friendly community initiative as a result of the incredible community support we received with the B Sharp Arts Engagement® program, a collaborative project enabling couples living with dementia to attend the symphony and participate in a research study. When the need for sustaining the volunteer initiative became apparent, we formed a 501c3 non-profit organization in January 2017. Dementia Together remains a Northern Colorado focused “in the meantime” nonprofit organization today. Due to our online programming and word of mouth, our reach is expanding throughout the United States and beyond.  We are supported by private donations, corporate partnerships, grants, and a lot of collaboration and passion.

We enthusiastically share the SPECAL® method as a framework to effectively and positively manage the condition of dementia to produce lifelong well-being.  We collaborate with many Northern Colorado organizations as well as several national and international organizations which include Dementia Action Alliance (DAA), Dementia Map, Alzheimer’s Speaks, and Purple Angel Ambassadors.  We were cited in the 2019 DAA white paper case study which stated: “one nonprofit organization, [Dementia Together], is leading the way in changing the predominant culture surrounding people living with dementia and their potential to ‘live well.’” We contributed to the DAA comprehensive manual in 2022, Pathways to Well-Being with Dementia.  More importantly, we create and share joy with our friends who are striving to live well with dementia.

Board of Directors

Monica 2016

Live Longer. Live Stronger. ``I serve on the board because life gains meaning when we live to help others.``

Monica Londoño

Manager at Seniors Helping Seniors - Northern Colorado
My project-1 (1)

Ben Aaker

VP of Client Services at Bonfire Effect
Untitled (8)

Chris Smith

Deputy for Larimer County Sheriff's Office
cynthia-sized

``The work of Dementia Together provides hope, enrichment, education and joy to people and communities. They are changing lives one person at a time. I serve on the DT Board to help hold them accountable to focus on people and not become overly project focused.``

Cynthia Jensen

Small Business Owner
paul-sized

``I serve on the board because I have had family members who developed dementia, and some of my best memories were serving as public relations manager for the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. I love the people on this board, and I’m passionate about ending stigmas associated with the disease.``

Paul Matthews

Broker Associate/Partner at The Group, Inc. Real Estate
IMG_0719

Lisa’s passion for seniors started when she worked as a caregiver at Collinwood in 1993 while attending college for occupational therapy. For the past two decades she has worked with people of all ages encouraging independence and purpose.

Lisa LaFehr

Owner at Aging Resource Coordinators
gil-sized

``I serve on the board because I have a passion for helping older adults, especially those living with dementia. Because of Cyndy’s passion. Because of those I serve with. Because of our mission…in the meantime.``

Gil Atanasoff

Owner and Executive Director at Senior Helpers Northern Colorado
Maureen

``I serve on the board because I have worked with people with dementia for many years. It has affected my family personally. I desire to be a part of educating and learning more about how to walk through a day along side of those experiencing dementia. Work together in the moment.``

Maureen Walker

Owner/Senior Advisor at Assisted Living Locators
My project-1

Taylor Cobb

Community Relations Liaison at Charter Healthcare
head shot blue 4 x 6 m

Sueann Swetzig

Executive Assistant to the President at UCHealth
BT pic outside VG office 1

``I want everyone to know about the amazing work & education that Dementia Together offers & to spread this helpful & practical information around the USA and world.``

Brenda Trejos

Owner/Licensed Agent at Medicare Guide

Patty Weible

Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies
Shannon Photo

Shannon Mosness was born and raised in Fort Collins. She attended the University of Wyoming, before launching into a career in fundraising - primarily in the higher education and healthcare industries. Her husband, Tom, is a partner in a commercial real estate business and they have five ``kids,`` the youngest being 20.

Shannon Mosness

Senior Director of Development at the University of Wyoming Foundation
Monica 2016

Live Longer. Live Stronger.
Monica's commitment is to enable seniors to remain in the place where they have cherished memories, by matching qualified active Seniors with Seniors in need of help. This peer relationship is one in which both people feel valued and appreciated.

Monica Londoño

Manager at Seniors Helping Seniors - Northern Colorado
My project-1 (1)

Ben Aaker

VP of Client Services at Bonfire Effect
Untitled (6)

Chris Smith

Deputy for Larimer County Sheriff's Office
paul-sized

``I serve on the board because I have had family members who developed dementia, and some of my best memories were serving as public relations manager for the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. I love the people on this board, and I’m passionate about ending stigmas associated with the disease. I’m also eager for the discoveries and therapeutics that will halt the progression of the diseases of dementia before the onset of symptoms.

Paul Matthews

Broker Associate/Partner at The Group, Inc. Real Estate
IMG_0719

Lisa’s passion for seniors started when she worked as a caregiver at Collinwood in 1993 while attending college for occupational therapy. For the past two decades she has worked with people of all ages encouraging independence and purpose.

Lisa LaFehr

Owner at Aging Resource Coordinators
gil-sized

``I serve on the board because I have a passion for helping older adults, especially those living with dementia. Because of Cyndy’s passion. Because of those I serve with. Because of our mission…in the meantime.``

Gil Atanasoff

Owner and Executive Director at Senior Helpers Northern Colorado
cynthia-sized

``The work of Dementia Together provides hope, enrichment, education and joy to people and communities. They are changing lives one person at a time. I serve on the DT Board to help hold them accountable to focus on people and not become overly project focused.``

Cynthia Jensen

Small Business Owner
Maureen

``I serve on the board because I have worked with people with dementia for many years. It has affected my family personally. I desire to be a part of educating and learning more about how to walk through a day along side of those experiencing dementia. Work together in the moment.``

Maureen Walker

Owner/Senior Advisor at Assisted Living Locators
My project-1

Taylor Cobb

Community Relations Liaison at Charter Healthcare
head shot blue 4 x 6 m

Sueann Swetzig

Executive Assistant to the President at UCHealth
BT pic outside VG office 1

``I want everyone to know about the amazing work & education that Dementia Together offers & to spread this helpful & practical information around the USA and world.``

Brenda Trejos

Owner/Licensed Agent at Medicare Guide
headshot Megan Gause

``I am excited to serve on the board because I care about promoting quality community programs for individuals and caregivers living with dementia.``

Megan Gause, DO

Faculty Geriatrician/Family Medicine Physician at UCHealth Family Medicine Center
Shannon Photo

Shannon Mosness was born and raised in Fort Collins. She attended the University of Wyoming, before launching into a career in fundraising - primarily in the higher education and healthcare industries. Her husband, Tom, is a partner in a commercial real estate business and they have five ``kids,`` the youngest being 20.

Shannon Mosness

Senior Director of Development at the University of Wyoming Foundation

Meet the Team

Cyndy Hunt Luzinski is our founder and executive director of Dementia Together, is an advanced practice nurse, certified dementia practitioner, and the first accredited SPECAL® Practitioner in North America as credentialed by the Contented Dementia Trust in Burford, England.

Andrea Scandrett is our SPECAL® Specialist, and SPECAL® Practitioner. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and has been with us since we started out as a volunteer initiative.

Meghan Wall is our Manager of Hope, and a SPECAL® Practitioner. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Health & Exercise Science and a Minor in Gerontology.

Robin Westcott is our Business Manager. She is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and Certified Dementia Practitioner® whose mother lived with dementia.

Claire Richardson is our Outreach and Resource Developoment Manager. She enjoys building relationships and creating awareness around the mission of Dementia Together.

Esther Gowin is our Social Media Coordinator. She is passionate about capturing and sharing Dementia Together’s impactful work and loves using social media platforms to create connections throughout our community.

Amy Threewitt is our Enrichment Manager. She has a background in Non-Profit and Volunteer Management, and has a passion for serving others and building community.

Sharon Keay is our Outreach Coordinator.

Strategic Partners

Chris Imsland of Imsland Consulting: An experienced consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the non profit industry. Chris is skilled in providing organizations with grant and proposal writing, fundraising strategy, organizational management, and business development services.  Because of our thoughtful strategy, engaged board of directors, and community energy around our work, Chris remarked at a recent board retreat, “Dementia Together is the best new nonprofit I’ve seen.”

Code Geek, who designed and maintains our website with updates and solutions that we don’t have expertise or time to manage…And they do it without complaining (to us)!

Twelve11Films, is a videography and photography company that specializes in telling your story.

Periscope Theory, an organizational development consulting business that provides strategic, relationship focused services which help us maintain best practice.

Community Advisory Board

Phil Leathery, expert living with dementia and Joan Leathery, care partner

Phil Thompson, expert living with dementia and Cathy Thompson, care partner

Chuck Hanson, expert living with dementia and Sheryl Hanson, care partner

Beverly Gamble, expert living with dementia and Bill Gamble, care partner

Dementia touches or soon will touch all of us.

Give monthly and you’ll join a community that’s dedicated to walking the dementia journey together.