Dementia Capable Southern Arizona

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The purpose of Dementia Capable Southern Arizona is to create a welcoming, compassionate community in which people with dementia can connect and thrive. This collaborative effort supports people with dementia and their caregivers through coordination and availability of resources, community education, and effective policy change.

Dementia Capable Southern Arizona, anchored at PCOA, works to increase our community’s understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. Working alongside local governments, we are creating a dementia-friendly communities plan to make southern Arizona a better place for people living with dementia and those who care for them. Because early detection matters, we help increase the identification of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias and make referrals to appropriate resources. We are excited to offer Memory Cafés in Pima County, and to partner with local businesses to provide training and support to caregivers in the workplace.

Do you have concerns for yourself or your loved one about memory?

Please call the PCOA Helpline at 520.790.7262 or complete this referral form to reach one of our certified Options Counselors, who will complete a brief screening tool. Based on the results of the screening, our Options Counselors will work with you and your family in creating a person-centered plan that can include general information, resources and referrals as needed. They will also provide dementia education and support for symptom management.

Our Program Director, Harbhajan Khalsa, provides supervisory, administrative and organizational oversight of Dementia Capable Southern Arizona.

Our Certified Options Counselors, Vianey Hernandez and David Torrez, provide short-term coaching and case management to those living alone with Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias, their caregivers and individuals with IDD. They provide person-centered plans; provide individualized referrals and advocacy. They work in conjunction with other program staff to provide community-based programming. Memory concerns? Call the PCOA Helpline at 520.790.7262 or complete this referral form to receive a FREE screening.

Our Community Education Specialist, Nicole Thomas, provides ongoing training and monitoring for dementia-specialized support services. She creates, modifies and implements a variety of trainings for both internal staff, external partners and community members.

Our LGBTQ Community Liaison, Sarah Bahnson, coordinates PCOAs work with the LGBTQ community, including Visibility Matters trainings activities. Through trainings Sarah works to help our community services providers ensure that older LGBTQ adults receive aging related care services that are welcoming, respectful, and safe to them.

Dementia Friends is a global movement that is changing the way people think, act and talk about dementia, developed by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom. Dementia Friends seeks to change people’s perceptions of dementia by transforming how we think, talk and act about the disease. It’s a big project that asks for a small commitment, one hour of your time. You will learn the critical aspects to better understand dementia, how it affects people and how we each can make a difference in the lives of people living with dementia. Learn five key messages about dementia, common types and turn understanding into action.

Please visit our Eventbrite page for a complete listing of Dementia Friends Information Sessions (offered in English and Spanish) by clicking here.

As LGBTQI+ people age and need supportive services to meet their aging goals, many of them question whether it is safe to share with their providers that they are LGBTQI+ due to stigma they have witnessed and experienced over their lifetimes. Those issues can be compounded for those living with dementia.

LGBTQI+ people are uniquely impacted by dementia and people who care for them will benefit from this training. The Visibility Matters training helps care providers gain the tools needed to create a safe place for LGBTQI+ people to be their authentic selves so that we can meet their unique needs. The training provides information about how to be more aware, sensitive, and responsive to LGBTQI+ older people living with dementia.

Visibility Matters is an excellent training for long term care facilities, medical professionals, senior centers, in-home care providers, case managers, or anyone serving people living with dementia in Pima County.

Trainees can expect to learn: 

  • Historical context regarding the strained relationship between LGBTQI+ people and community institutions
  • The complex impact additional identities, such as race and ability, have on health outcomes, financial resources, and personal supports
  • The specific vulnerabilities of LGBTQI+ older people as it relates to end-of-life planning, palliative care, hospice care, and memory care
  • The importance of making your organization’s efforts visible and welcoming
  • How to provide the best support and resources to LGBTQI+ older people as they age
  • Visibility Matters Dementia Edition is designed to be a three-hour training, with some flexibility to accommodate the needs of specific audiences. To learn more or schedule a training, click here, or contact Sarah Bahnson at

  • More than 1 in 6 Americans working full or part-time are also the caregiver of an elderly or disabled family member, friend or relative.
  • Pima Council on Aging and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona created this program to support working caregivers by offering education, resources, and specific training that empower employees to balance work and caregiving. Each session consists of 8 weekly 90-minute classes that combine the evidence-based Powerful Tools for Caregivers program with hands-on learning in PCOA’s Caregiver Skills Lab. Envisioned as a lunch and learn, the course is delivered by trained PCOA instructors.
  • Get involved today – contract Program Director Harbhajan Khalsa at or 520.790.7573 x3426

Memory concerns? Call the PCOA Helpline at 520.790.7262 or complete this referral form to receive a FREE screening.


In accordance with CDC guidelines, masking at PCOA facilities is optional for staff, volunteers, and members of the public. CDC recommends people at high risk of serious illness from COVID 19 discuss when they should wear masks and other precautions with their healthcare provider. PCOA representatives will gladly put on a mask at your request. Participants at in-person event(s) will be expected to adhere to distancing and safety guidelines as provided. Guidelines for functions held in community sites not operated by PCOA may vary.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90ADPI0055-01-00 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.