Neighborhood and Built Environment

212 - Neighborhood and Built Environment: Social Engagement and Dementia-Friendly Communities

Tuesday, July 17
2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
Location: Regency Ballroom-Lower Level

Marie Dagger, MS, OTR/L, CDCP-Dementia Friendly Business Training, Orange County NC
Emir Kandzetovic, MPH-The Power of Connection: Reducing Social Isolation and Increasing Engagement Through Peer Discussion Groups
Torsha Bhattacharya, PhD-Do Trails Encourage Physical Activity Among OA, Survey of Trail-users in West Virginia and Ohio

This session focuses on social engagement for older adults, including dementia-friendly communities. Social isolation is a growing epidemic. Nearly one-third of adults 65 years and older live alone. Research has linked social isolation to a variety of adverse health outcomes, including increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Approaches are needed to combat social isolation, support social engagement, and ensure that all older adults, including those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, are able to participate in their communities.
This panel of experts will describe national- and community-level efforts to increase social engagement in older adults. They will discuss their methodologies, achievements, and lessons learned regarding their programs, focusing on peer-led discussion groups and walkable communities and physical activity in addition to efforts to create dementia-friendly environments through community education.

Learning Objectives:

Marie R. Dagger, MS, OTR/L

Training Coordinator
Orange County Department on Aging

Marie Rawlings Dagger, MS, OTR/L, CDCP is an occupational therapist and training coordinator with the OC CARES (Caregiver Awareness Respite Education and Support) team at the Orange County, North Carolina Department on Aging. She is an AFA Certified Dementia Care Partner and has been working in community-based dementia care since joining the team in January 2016. Her current roles involve consulting with the weekly community-based Caregiver Respite program, providing in-home coaching and support to families living with dementia, and coordinating dementia-related educational programming. These free education programs include monthly series for families and interested community members, specialized courses for direct care workers, and the Dementia Friendly Businesses program. Ms. Dagger is a 2014 graduate of the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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Emir Kandzetovic, MPH

Program Coordinator
The Oasis Institute

Emir Kandzetovic, MPH is aProgram Coordinator for the Oasis Institute (the headquarters for the Oasis Network), implementing evidence-based health programs such as Stanford University’s Diabetes and Chronic Disease Self-Management programs across the St. Louis Metro area. Mr. Kandzetovic also works with the Peers for Productive Aging program, designed to combat risk for social isolation. Mr. Kandzetovic gathers and analyzes data, and regularly collaborates on reports. He is responsible for following up on referrals and scheduling Oasis’s Diabetes Self-Management Program, Better Choices, Better Health®-Diabetes, programs in the community. Mr. Kandzetovic graduated with his Master's in Public Health from St. Louis Universit, and plans to pursue a PhD in Public Health Studies.


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Torsha Bhattacharya, PhD

Director of Research
Rails to Trails Conservancy

Dr. Bhattacharya is the Director of Research at Rails to Trails Conservancy- the country’s largest trails and active-transportation advocacy organization. In her position here, she oversees research that support trail building, increased walking and bicycling among all sections of society. She is especially interested in the health, equity and sustainability impacts of active transportation and trails. Prior to her work here, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii, Manoa where she studied impacts of public transit accessibility to the local population and tourists. Dr. Bhattacharya completed her PhD from Florida State University.


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Michael Buckley, BA

Vice President, Public Affairs
BrightFocus Foundation

Michael Buckley oversees our communications, advocacy, and marketing efforts, helping the foundation collaborate with others in the fight to defeat diseases affecting mind and sight.

Buckley comes to BrightFocus after serving as communications director for the AFL-CIO’s Alliance for Retired Americans, where he led the organization through a re-branding effort and integrated social media in all advocacy and marketing campaigns. Buckley previously served as the communications director for the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department, as well as in similar roles for two policy research groups.

Buckley served as a volunteer communications director for the Obama campaign in Maryland in both 2007–2008 and 2012. He is a graduate of American University.


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Shary Jones, PharmD, MPH

acting Regional Health Administrator, Region VII
US Department of Health and Human Services, OASH

CAPT Shary Jones, PharmD, MPH, BCPS is a U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officer who serves as the Acting Regional Health Administrator (RHA) for the U.S. Department and Health Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in Region VII. Prior to joining Region VII in June 2014, as the Deputy Regional Health Administrator, CAPT Jones served as a public health advisor in the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO) by providing oversight and guidance for the Interagency Adult Immunization Task Force. She was responsible for advising the Assistant Secretary for Health on the interagency coordination of adult immunization activities, including a wide range of policy and program coordination activities related to vaccines and immunization. CAPT Jones completed an ASHP accredited specialty residency in geriatrics at Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington, NC and is a graduate of the Howard University College of Pharmacy and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


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212 - Neighborhood and Built Environment: Social Engagement and Dementia-Friendly Communities


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