Our mission

No one has to walk the dementia journey alone.

Why “Dementia Together”?

It’s no secret that 2020 was a year marked by anguishing with separation and distancing, and 2021 was a year of languishing in uncertainty.  2022  continues with some of the same challenges.  At Dementia Together, we believe that being together is essential, especially when the dementia journey too often (and unnecessarily) pulls us toward isolation and loneliness.

Our mission remains clear: No one has to walk the dementia journey alone.  We’re committed to listening to the experts – those living with dementia. We continue to cultivate joy and build stronger connections for people living with dementia, their care partners, and our communities.

How do we do it?

We listen to the expert advice of people living with dementia to craft events, education and support programs, and enrichment opportunities that bring hope and contentment to people living with dementia and their care partners.

Education

Training for senior care professionalsbusinesses, community groups, and care partners 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 had… It made his life more enjoyable and meaningful.”
– Karel Applebee, care partner support group member and Contented Dementia class participant

Our Approach: Person-directed, family-driven care

We listen to the voices of the experts (people living with dementia).  These people, who have served in leadership capacities for many years, continue to advise us in our work, sharing how they feel when they are participating in life enrichment programming, making insightful recommendations for us to follow.

We help staff in businesses, health care, and senior care learn dementia-friendly communication strategies.  We offer education and support for family care partners of loved ones living with dementia.    Because Cyndy Luzinski, our executive director, and the only licensed SPECAL® Practitioner  in North America (as credentialed by the Contented Dementia Trust in England)  provides much of our education, we often teach participants about the SPECAL Method to sustain lifelong well-being for people with dementia.  This starts with Three Golden Rules of “Contented Dementia,” understood through the framework of a simple and highly effective way of explaining how it feels to experience dementia, using the SPECAL Photograph Album. (The Contented Dementia Trust, Burford, England).  We are conducting evidence-based research with Colorado State University on the impact of using SPECAL.  Our preliminary findings are consistent with the latest 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.”

This approach to dementia care and advocacy is what enables us to become recognized as the local “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 (for every rule there’s a tool) 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, so we expect to be able to keep up with the requests for services in the months and years ahead as word about this simple approach to dementia care is spread.

Our Story

Originally Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado®, we started as a volunteer initiative in November 2015 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 local, grassroots, “in the meantime” nonprofit organization today. We are supported by private donations, corporate partnerships, grants, and a lot of collaboration and passion.

We are proudly affiliated with the Purple Angel Ambassadors, an international dementia-friendly awareness campaign.  We enthusiastically share the SPECAL® method as a framework to simply understand how to effectively manage the condition of dementia to produce lifelong well-being.  We collaborate locally with the Alzheimer’s Association, area agencies on aging, and many Northern Colorado senior care organizations. We are actively engaged with the North American Dementia Action Alliance. In a June, 2019 Dementia Action Alliance White Paper Response to The National Academies of Sciences, we were cited in the 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.’” Additionally, we participate in the World Dementia Council survey to collect global evidence base for the delivery of meaningful Dementia Friendly Initiatives (DFIs). We contribute resources and expertise to the Dementia Map and Memory Cafe Directory websites.  More importantly, we create and share joy with our friends who are striving to live well with dementia.

Board of Directors

Cyndy headshot 2 (1)

Cyndy, 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.

Cyndy Hunt Luzinski

Founder and Executive Director of Dementia Together
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``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
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``I serve on the board because God put people with dementia in my path. Words cannot express our thankfulness for the care we receive from Dementia Together.”

Elisabeth Olson

CFP Financial Advisor, Financial Consulting Group 360 LLC
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``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

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``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
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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
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Travis has more than 30 years of experience in the overall supervision of three different agencies’ creative output and specializes in guiding brands through strategy, positioning, creative development, marketing, and promotion.

Travis Barhaug

Founder/CEO at Bonfire Effect
Claire Richardson

With a passion for our aging community and listening to stories, Claire created Preserving with Purpose to ensure that our history, stories and memories can be preserved in creative ways for our future generations. Building connection one story at a time.

Claire Richardson

Founder of Preserving With Purpose
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 - Weld County
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``I serve on the board because this is my life’s passion and purpose and it keeps my light bulb burning: DT brings hope, joy and connection to my life and to those people living with dementia. SPECAL® is the magic pill with no negative side effects.``

Peggy Budai

Nurse Practioner, Older Adult and Palliative Care Programs, UCHealth
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
Cyndy headshot 2 (1)

Cyndy Hunt Luzinski

Founder and Executive Director of Dementia Together

Cyndy, 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.

paul-sized

Paul Matthews

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

Paul Matthews serves as our Board Secretary. He previously worked for the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix and is passionate about helping people who are living with memory and thinking problems.

lisa-sized

Lisa LaFehr

Owner at Aging Resource Coordinators

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.

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Gil Atanasoff

Owner and Executive Director at Senior Helpers Northern Colorado

As Owner and Executive Director, Gil oversees all activities for Senior Helpers of Fort Collins. He is dedicated to improving the lives of his clients and hiring compassionate caregivers that meet their specific needs.

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Cynthia Jensen

``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.``

travis-sized

Travis Barhaug

Founder/CDO at Bonfire Effect

Travis has more than 30 years of experience in the overall supervision of three different agencies’ creative output and specializes in guiding brands through strategy, positioning, creative development, marketing, and promotion.

Claire Richardson

With a passion for our aging community and listening to stories, Claire created Preserving with Purpose to ensure that our history, stories and memories can be preserved in creative ways for our future generations. Building connection one story at a time.

Claire Richardson

Founder of Preserving With Purpose
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 - Weld County
peggy clip[13015]

``I serve on the board because this is my life’s passion and purpose and it keeps my light bulb burning: DT brings hope, joy and connection to my life and to those people living with dementia. SPECAL® is the magic pill with no negative side effects.``

Peggy Budai

Nurse Practioner, Older Adult and Palliative Care Programs, UCHealth
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

Meet the Team

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

Meghan Wall is our Program Coordinator,  a SPECAL® Coach, and Certified Dementia 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. She is looking forward to becoming a SPECAL® Coach with Dementia Together.

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.”

Tiffany Dinsmore and Christine Forster of My Big Day, a company which supports businesses and individuals in the growth of their ideas, events and marketing strategies.

Cindy McGrorey, CPA who independently prepares our 990 income tax documents and financial reviews.

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)!

Community Advisory Board

Phil and Joan Leathery, experts currently walking the dementia journey

Lee and Carla Jeffrey, experts currently walking the dementia journey

Bob and Sue Branch, experts currently walking the dementia journey

Cathy and Phil Thompson, experts currently walking the dementia journey

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.