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 has been a year of languishing in uncertainty.  At Dementia Together, we believe that being together is essential. Especially when so many things about the dementia journey pull us toward isolation and loneliness.

Formerly, “Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado,” our new name seeks to reflect that sense of together-ness. But even though our name is new, our mission remains the same: No one has to walk the dementia journey alone.  We’re the same organization helping to cultivate joy and connection for people living with dementia and their care partners. We’re still committed  to listening to the experts – those living with dementia.

We are working hard on developing new educational programs, and exploring new ways to bring people together across all points of the dementia journey. (We even have a new method for online giving!)

Thank you for walking this journey with us – now into 2022 and beyond.

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 never wanted to admit anything was wrong with him. He benefited from the knowledge I had… It makes his life more enjoyable and meaningful. He felt like he could still do things.” – Karel Applebee

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

Dementia does or soon will touch all of us. We are an “in the meantime” organization. We help people discover that “in the meantime,” until cures for the causes of dementia are found, we can make life changing differences NOW for people striving to live well with dementia. We leverage and provide resources, expertise, activities, and education in Northern Colorado communities so that people living with dementia and their care partners can stay engaged and connected in relationships and meaningful life.

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 also collaborate locally with the Alzheimer’s Association 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). More importantly, we create and share joy with our friends who are striving to live well with dementia.

Board of Directors

cyndy-sized

Cyndy is an advanced practice nurse, certified dementia practitioner, and the ONLY accredited SPECAL® (Specialized Early Care for Alzheimer’s) coach in North America.

Cyndy Hunt Luzinski

Founder and Executive Director of Dementia Together
paul-sized

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.

Paul Matthews

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

Lisa serves as our Board President. 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
cynthia-sized

Cynthia drives for SAINT (Senior Alternatives In Transportation) and has a mother with dementia. She is passionate about coming alongside others in their ``in the meantime.``

Cynthia Jensen

dorsi-sized

Dementia became a part of Dorsi's life when her husband Mark was diagnosed at 59 and passed at 62. Now Dorsi helps others through the journey as many helped her.

Dorsi Smith

Retired from Rocky Mountain Fever basketball, Agilent, Hewlett-Packard
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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.

Gil Atanasoff

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

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.
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
Becky Professional[3298]

Becky has been working in senior care for over 10 years and has a special passion for dementia care. Becky has worked directly in Memory Care for over three years and couldn’t work anywhere else! Helping people with dementia live their best life and thrive is what gets Becky out of bed in the morning.

Becky Lepinski

Executive Director at Windsong at Northridge
cyndy-sized

Cyndy Hunt Luzinski

Founder and Executive Director of Dementia Together

Cyndy is an advanced practice nurse, certified dementia practitioner, and the ONLY accredited SPECAL® (Specialized Early Care for Alzheimer’s) coach in North America.

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 serves as our Board President. 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.

gil-sized

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.

cynthia-sized

Cynthia Jensen

Cynthia drives for SAINT (Senior Alternatives In Transportation) and has a mother with dementia. She is passionate about coming alongside others in their ``in the meantime.``

dorsi-sized

Dorsi Smith

Retired from Rocky Mountain Fever basketball, Agilent, Hewlett-Packard.

Dementia became a part of Dorsi's life when her husband Mark was diagnosed at 59 and passed at 62. Now Dorsi helps others through the journey as many helped her.

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
Becky Professional[3298]

Becky has been working in senior care for over 10 years and has a special passion for dementia care. Becky has worked directly in Memory Care for over three years and couldn’t work anywhere else! Helping people with dementia live their best life and thrive is what gets Becky out of bed in the morning.

Becky Lepinski

Executive Director at Windsong at Northridge

Meet the Team

Andrea Scandrett is our Program Manager. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and has been with us since we started out as a volunteer initiative.

Meghan Wall is our Admin Assistant & Program Coordinator. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Health & Exercise Science and a Minor in Gerontology. She aspires to eventually go to graduate school for Gerontology and specialize in dementia.

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.”

Kim Fisher of Vision Catalyst who manages our financial records along with our treasurer, Lisa Loehr. Kim Fisher is the Chief Strategist at Vision Catalyst.  She is has over 30 years of experience as a nonprofit executive and coach and is passionate about partnering with visionary leaders to achieve their dreams.

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

Jim and Walta Ruff, experts currently walking the dementia journey

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

Angel Hoffman, Regional Director, Alzheimer’s Association

Dawn Simmons, Program Manager, Alzheimer’s Association

Peggy Budai, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, UCHealth

Phoebe Hawley, Clinical Services Manager, Banner Health

Eileen McCluskey, Poudre River Public Library District

Claire Richardson, Preserving with Purpose

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.

For a copy of our most recent 990, click below.

BBB Accredited Charity Logo

*Updated website not noted on the 2020 990. Please note our correct website address is: dementiatogether.org*