Banner Sun Health Research Institute is partnering with the City of Surprise to create Arizona’s second Dementia Friendly city, part of the Dementia Friends initiative.

Dementia Friends is a global movement that is changing the way people think, act and talk about dementia. With Arizona anticipated to experience the highest-growth rate of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias nationally, it’s important to create more programs and resources to help entire communities understand what dementia is and how it affects people.

“We have been privileged to help launch one of the first Dementia Friendly communities with the City of Tempe and are thrilled to be able to expand that important work into Surprise with like-minded partners,” said Lori Nisson, LCSW, Family and Community Services director at Banner Sun Health Research Institute and Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. This effort will tangibly improve support and quality of life for people and families living with the Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,”

As a Dementia Friendly city, Surprise will partner with community experts in aging and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Supporting organizations including Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, Benevilla, Sun Health Wellness and the Alzheimer’s Association will collaborate to provide a free Memory Café and community events geared toward educating the community to raise awareness of the disease, lower stigma and improve support for Northwest Valley families living with dementia.

“Surprise takes great pride in providing programs and services that give every member of our community the opportunity to thrive and feel supported,” said Surprise Mayor Skip Hall. “What’s special about the Memory Café is that it not only offers professional education about dementia, it also provides a space for the community to support each other.”

Memory Cafés provide a social and resource place for people living with memory loss and their care partners. Caregivers participate in an educational and/or support session while people with memory loss actively participate in a cognitive engagement program. The free sessions are scheduled from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of every month starting Oct. 8 at Salvation Army, 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts in Surprise. A proclamation by Mayor Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 17 officially brands the City of Surprise a Dementia Friendly community.

Since 1986, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, part of nonprofit Banner Health, has been a leader nationally and internationally in the effort to find answers to disorders of aging including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The institute, together with its Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium partners, has been designated by the National Institutes of Health as one of just 29 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers in the nation. Banner Health is Arizona’s leading health care provider and largest private employer. For more information, visit or visit us on Facebook.