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Embracing Dementia Inclusion

As LeadingAge members strive to offer innovative and forward-thinking solutions for older adults living with dementia, it is important to consider why we often separate and confine people based on frailty or diagnosis—and explore the possibilities for individuals of diverse cognitive abilities to live together.

Series is Closed

This series is currently  closed. Please contact Kirsten Jacobs to be added to our waitlist for the next dementia series.

About the Series

Fostering a sense of belonging is paramount to the well-being and quality of life of all who live and work in long-term care settings. Yet, creating less restrictive environments for those living with cognitive change is often an overlooked aspect of the resident experience.

This series will explore the practical implications of the shift toward intentional inclusion and begin to spark person-directed approaches aimed at moving toward more integrated settings that enable people with dementia to move freely throughout the residential community where they live and fully participate in community life.

As part of a small and highly engaged cohort, participants will hear from experienced subject-matter experts, advocates, and people living with dementia to:

  • Raise Our Collective Awareness

    about the arguments in favor of creating integrated environments for those living with cognitive change. 

  • Enhance Our Understanding

    of risk in the lives of people living with dementia and how to strive for a balance that supports autonomy.

  • Identify Actionable Ways

    to overcome challenges and address the real and perceived barriers to dementia-inclusion.

  • Gain New Perspective

    to consider how we might seek the wisdom of the lived experience to sustain this ongoing work.

The series is open to LeadingAge provider members only—irrespective of their professional experience or job title. 

  • Space is limited to a small cohort of 35 participants.
  • A non-refundable fee of $1,000 per person is required to participate; additional participants from the same organization must each register and pay separately.
  • Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis; registration closes on April 22.

Participation in the program is limited to two individuals from the same organization.

LeadingAge seeks to eliminate barriers to participation in education programs by providing need-based discounts (up to 50%) to provider members with a demonstrated financial need or hardship situation and a commitment to ongoing professional (and personal) development. To be considered for financial assistance, please submit a request using our online form; LeadingAge will notify recipients ahead of the start of the program.

The goal of shared learning is to gain, build, and exchange ideas through a process of open dialogue and collective exploration—to really wrestle in the gray areas and engage in generative conversations with a diverse group of peers.

  • To enable participants to share and learn from each other’s experiences, sessions will be highly interactive and include presentations as well as small and full group conversations. 
  • To encourage personal exploration and continued learning, suggested readings, videos, online 
  • Dialogue, and other resources will be shared between sessions.
  • To foster engagement and community-building, participants will be expected to be on camera and be present for the full duration of all sessions; due to the interactive nature, sessions are not recorded. 
  • Upon completion of the series, participants obtain a certificate of completion they can add to their LinkedIn profile; the series has not been approved for continuing education (CE) credits.

The series will be held via Zoom every other week between May 6 and June 18 and consist of the following live/virtual sessions.

Philosophical Underpinnings (Opening & Orientation) |  Monday, May 6 (1–2 p.m. ET)

Reflect on the foundational elements of a dementia-inclusive philosophy and set the stage for your participation in the series.

Supporting Inclusion for People with Dementia | Tuesday, May 7 (1–4 p.m. ET)

Consider the arguments in favor of creating integrated settings where people living with cognitive change can live with meaning and purpose.

Grappling with Autonomy, Risk, and Safety  | Tuesday, May 21 (1–4 p.m. ET)

Understand the importance of risk in the lives of people living with dementia and how to strive for a balance that supports autonomy.

Overcoming Barriers  | Thursday, June 6 (1–4 p.m. ET)

Acknowledge the real and perceived barriers to dementia-inclusion and consider ways to overcome challenges. 

Learning from Lived Experience | Tuesday, June 18    (1 – 4 p.m. ET)

Hear what individuals living with dementia want for themselves and consider how you might continue seeking the wisdom of the lived experience as you sustain this ongoing work. 

Please Note: This program has not been approved for continuing education (CE) credits. Upon completion of the series, participants obtain a certificate of completion they can add to their LinkedIn profile.


Kristen Jacobs headshot circle

Kirsten Jacobs, MSW 

As senior director, shared learning initiatives, Kirsten leads LeadingAge’s shared learning strategy and provides thought leadership to various audiences, including speaking/presenting and delivering technical assistance to LeadingAge members on dementia, person-directed wellbeing and diversity, equity and inclusion. Kirsten co-leads LeadingAge’s ageism work and internal diversity, equity, and inclusion council, which support the organization’s mission and vision.

Jen Wilson Headshot

Jen Wilson, MPH

As Vice President of Well-Being at Carol Woods Retirement Community, Jen leads resident support services along the continuum of care, including primary care, rehabilitation, social work, fitness, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing. Prior to Carol Woods she worked at the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence, coaching North Carolina nursing homes through quality improvement efforts to implement person centered care and reduce restraint use.

Guest Speakers

Sonya Barsness Headshot

Sonya Barsness Gerontologist,
Sonya Barsness Consulting LLC

Sonya’s work focuses on applying a new paradigm of aging and dementia that is based on person-centered values of choice, dignity, respect, self-determination, purposeful living, and shared humanity.

Jennifer Carson headshot

Jennifer Carson, PhD
Director, Dementia Engagement, Education, and Research (DEER) Program

Jennifer’s work focuses on partnering with people living with dementia, care partners and other stakeholders to collaboratively develop research initiatives, program innovations and educational opportunities.

Jessica Kim Headshot

Jessica Luh Kim
Consultant and Educator

Jessica’s work focuses on changing the narrative and view on dementia through her professional and voluntary work.


Pat Sprigg Headshot

Pat Sprigg, Retired CEO
Carol Woods Retirement Community

Pat’s work focuses on advocating for integration of people living with dementia.


SusanW Headshot

Susan Wehry, MD
Geriatric Psychiatrist, Director,  AgingME: Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP), PI, 1199 Pandemic Resilience and Recovery Project, Associate Professor, Geriatrics, Department of Primary Care, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM)

Susan’s work focuses on promoting healthy, meaningful aging to students, policy makers, health and human service professionals, older adults and family caregivers.

Mary Beth Wighton

Mary Beth Wighton
Advocate Living with Dementia

Mary Beth’s work, since being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, focuses on transforming her personal journey into a powerful advocacy mission.


Hi, I’m Kirsten!

Contact me with any questions you have about the Shared Learning Series.