About

A team reviews the patient resource folders

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.

Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado® 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 (hence the “B” themed signature programs.)  When the need for sustaining the volunteer initiative became apparent, we formed a 501c3 non-profit organization in January, 2017. Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado® remains a local, grassroots, “in the meantime” nonprofit organization today. 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 also actively engaged with the North American Dementia Action Alliance.

  • 'B' Our Partner & Support Our Signature Programs:

    • B Sharp
      B Sharp Arts Engagement®
      music (Fort Collins Symphony) and visual arts (Fort Collins Museum of Art) research programs (CSU)
    • B Social
      Memory Cafés
      Life Enrichment Opportunities
      Care Partner Support
      Caregiver Pampering Day 
    • B Aware
      Community Education
      Business Training
      Patient Resource Folders
    • B Empowered
      Support groups
      Dementia-Friendly Leader®  training and designation for senior professional organizations
      Care Partner education and individual/family consultation
    • B Generous
      Support our mission

Who we are:

BOARD OF DIRECTORS:    The Board is currently seeking to strategically add members with a passion to sustain and grow our efforts in helping Northern Colorado become increasingly more dementia-friendly.  We will consider for membership those individuals who are collaborative in our communities and possess the specific skills needed to complement those already shared by current board members.  Contact us if interested in serving with us.

The Founder and Executive Director is Cyndy Luzinski.  Cyndy is an advanced practice nurse and dementia practitioner. She is a strong advocate for community collaboration and providing relationship-based/person-centered dementia care. Cyndy enjoys one on one consultation with families, dementia-friendly business training, and facilitating a dementia care partners’ support group and memory cafés in Northern Colorado.  She is the first and only SPECAL® (Specialized Early Care for Alzheimer’s) “Contented Dementia” coach and practitioner in North America after having studied and met requirements of the Contented Dementia Trust’s positive person-centered care approach in the UK. She is passionate about helping people discover that there is still a lot of living to do and joy to be shared even when dementia becomes part of the life journey.

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Teri Oberleitner serves as our Board President and has lived in Colorado since 2006. Originally from Upstate New York, Teri earned her B.S. in Business, Management & Economics from the State University of New York – Empire State College. From 1995 until 2006, Teri and her husband George lived in Syracuse NY. While in Syracuse, Teri’s sales and management career included positions in medical recruiting and staffing, medical sales to physicians and hospital, and national non-profit fundraising for the American Diabetes Association.

After moving to Colorado, Teri transitioned her skills and career path to higher education admissions for both undergraduate and graduate students, and fundraising and development for a non-profit provider of senior care. It was there that Teri first met Cyndy and learned about the work she was doing to provide support (and joy) to persons living with dementia and their families; while also training employees of organizations throughout Northern Colorado to be Dementia Friendly. Cyndy’s vision, passion and commitment led Teri to joining the Board of Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado®, and then accepting the position of Board President beginning on January 1, 2019.

Currently, Teri works as a Business Development Consultant for the Better Business Bureau, serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming. She is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Windsor CO. Teri and her husband George continue to reside in Fort Collins.

Paul Matthews

Paul Matthews (The Group Real Estate) Paul Matthews serves as our Board Secretary and is a real estate broker with The Group Inc. and has been a Northern Colorado resident since 2008. He previously worked as a public relations manager for the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix and is passionate about helping people who are living with memory and thinking problems. Paul is actively involved with a number of local non-profit organizations and enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Fanning

Carol Fanning is a Branch Manager for First National Bank in Fort Collins and has been with the bank since she moved to Northern Colorado in 2002. Her mission at the bank is to build long standing relationships with her customers and to always build a cohesive team in a fun environment. She has a passion for learning more about Dementia and how she can help people cope with Dementia along with their Caregivers.  It was very difficult when watching her father who was living with Dementia and eventually passing away in 2016 in the UK.  Carol’s background is with the Arts, having gone to Theatre School in the UK and obtaining her teaching certificates in Ballet, Tap and Stage Dancing. She believes the Arts can be the inspiration and truly the happy memories these people many times thrive in remembering. Carol completed “Leadership Ft Collins” in 2012. And in memory of her mother she has led the banks “Relay For Life” team each year since 2011.

Mary Kopko

Mary Kopco (Fort Collins Symphony)  Mary A. Kopco is the Executive Director of the Fort Collins Symphony with over 38 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She earned her Master of Arts in History from James Madison University, Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Emory and Henry College, Virginia.  Hired in 2015 by the Fort Collins Symphony, one of her first projects was to help establish the B Sharp Arts Engagement® program where people living with dementia and their caregivers have the opportunity to attend Symphony concerts and participate in a Colorado State University study aimed at measuring the impact the concerts have on quality of life. Through her involvement with B Sharp, Mary has become an ardent advocate of the work being done by Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado® to help those living with dementia and their care partners feel supported by the community, and to be able to live as independently and joyfully as possible.  She asked to join the Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado® board in order to help the organization become financially viable and sustainable in the long-term.

Ross Lane

Ross G. Lane  received his PH.D. from Arizona State University in 1974 in Counseling Psychology. He has worked extensively is most fields in mental health and invested much of his professional life working with older adults in nursing care, psychiatric facilities, outpatient settings, and through State commissions dealing with Alzheimers and Dementia related illness. He has provided numerous workshops for families and significant others relating to memory deficits and developing care plans for families needing to learn how to maintain healthy living patterns.

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Jeni Cross, Ph.D., is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology. She earned a bachelor s degree from Colorado State University and received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Davis. Jeni’s research interests include community attachment/sense of place, land use and conservation, sustainability, inter-agency collaboration, social networks, and social norms. She has received grants from the U.S. Department of Education and Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention. She is a community sociologist who regularly works with public schools and community agencies on a variety of community-based participatory research projects centered on health promotion and community development.  She was instrumental in starting the B Sharp Arts Engagement® program in Northern Colorado which served as the impetus for launching the “Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado®” initiative.

Gil

Gil Atanasoff As Owner and Executive Director, Gil oversees all activities for Senior Helpers of Fort Collins. He is dedicated to improving the lives of our clients, and hiring compassionate caregivers that meet their specific needs. Gil most recently led Senior Helpers of Madison, WI, one of the largest offices in the country, utilizing his experience from over 20 years in a number of industries. He is grateful to work for a company that shares his passion for helping seniors live independently. Gil looks forward to helping more people and their families by growing Senior Helpers in Northern Colorado.

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Cynthia Jensen, a Colorado native, has lived in Fort Collins since 1975.  After earning her  BS in Business from Colorado State University she owned a pool company with her husband.  Determined to be the major influence in their children’s lives, she spent twenty-five years homeschooling their six children, and has run her own Mary Kay business for twenty-eight years.  Currently she drives for SAINT (Senior Alternatives In Transportation) and has a mother with Dementia.  Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado® has provided the education, training, and support she has needed for this journey and she is passionate about them coming alongside others in their “in the meantime”.  In her spare time she enjoys baseball, live music, and spending time with her family.

Lisa

Lisa LaFehr, Marketing and Sales Director at Collinwood Assisted Living and Memory Care. 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 as a certified occupational therapy assistant. In 2015, she returned to Collinwood as the Rehabilitation Director, and became Director of Sales and Marketing later in 2015. “I am so blessed to be able to fulfill my passion by going to work each day,” says Lisa. “This role allows me not only to care for our residents, but also to guide their families as a resource for the dynamic services Northern Colorado has to offer.”

Andrea Scandrett

Andrea Scandrett earned her masters degree in Gerontology at Lindenwood University in Missouri.  She possesses a natural love for people living with dementia and their families. She enthusiastically volunteered to assist with memory cafes when we started them in Northern Colorado in 2014.  Her homeschooling experience with her 7 children and with other students in co-ops prepared her to now use her creativity, humor, and skills with coordinating several memory cafés and innovative community social engagement opportunities.  She serves as the Life Enrichment Coordinator and liaison to our community advisory board.

OUR COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD is made of up of people in the community who are passionate about collaborating in order to make our community a place where people living with dementia are:

  • able to live as independently as possible
  • met with understanding
  • supported as needed to be safe
  • encouraged to maintain their social connections
  • enabled to function in environments which minimize anxiety and maximize purpose, dignity, contentment, and joy

 

“Nothing about them without them” is a mantra we take seriously.  We seek the expert advice of people living with dementia. We give voice to those experts and offer programs and support based on direct feedback from people living with dementia and their care partners.  We have 2 couples who have or currently serve on our advisory board.

 

Jim and Walta Ruff
Debbie and Jerry Crandall, experts in currently walking the dementia journey and using the Contented Dementia approach
Andrea Scandrett, MA Gerontology, memory café coordinator and facilitator
Deborah Bayliss, MS, RN, retired community case manager, program developer and community educator
Katie Fahrenbruch, MA Gerontology, Regional Director, Alzheimer’s Association
Lynette McGowan, Larimer County Office on Aging Caregiver Support, Caregiver Support Program Coordinator
Peggy Budai, UCHealth
Sylvia Garcia, Old Town Library
Jane Davenport, Nursing Director, Banner Health

Ultimately, this non-profit organization isn’t just about doing one more great thing in Northern Colorado. Our vision for building AND SUSTAINING dementia-friendly communities is to  foster collaboration, leverage resources and activities,  and offer education and support needed so that in Northern Colorado, no one walking the dementia journey has to walk alone.

Our website is meant to be a place to find “all things dementia” in our area, including  local, national, and international resources and events.

We strive:

  • To listen to the expert advice of people living with dementia and share that with the community
  • To increase dementia-awareness through education of businesses and organizations, as well as offering one on one consultations, general community education and dementia care partner support groups.
  • To elevate the culture of dementia care in Northern Colorado, so that people walking the dementia journey can have HOPE that there will be people in our communities who are caring and competent in being able to provide a sense of contentment and well-being for their entire lives.
It’s time we change our minds about people whose minds are changing.

~Allen Powers