In Wisconsin alone, there are over 110,000 senior citizens living with Alzheimer’s disease and many more seniors who suffer from other types of dementia. In Dane County, the Alzheimer’s population is projected to grow to 21,600 people by the year 2050, compared to the 6,000 reported in the year 2000. (According to a report issued by the Task Force on the Aging of Dane County). Statewide, the number of people with dementia is expected to grow from the current 115,000 to 242,000, including 61,000 Medicaid (www.eua.com/media/articles/climbing-the-memory-care-mountain). In order to address this growing issue and to more effectively respond to individuals with dementia, The North/Eastside Senior Coalition (NESCO), Warner Park Community Recreation Center Staff and MSCR Staff at Warner Park partnered in April receiving training and became part Dane County’s Dementia Friendly business community.
“So often when people are diagnosed with a dementia-type disease the tendency is to isolate, which is the exact opposite of what you should do,” said Joy Schmidt, Dementia Care Specialist, Dane County Human Services. “… we hope to encourage people to remain active despite the diagnosis. Studies indicate that those who remain physically, mentally and socially active can slow the progression of the disease.” According to Schmidt, the goal of a dementia friendly community is to raise awareness of dementia, recognize the needs of people with this disease and their care partners and find ways to make a community more accessible for people living with memory challenges. This is a concept that originated in Europe and has begun to spread through Wisconsin and Minnesota.
NESCO’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all senior adults by providing programs, advocacy, and resources to assist them to remain independent, active and influential in the community. Ruth Hellenbrand, Programs Manager for NESCO, is overseeing the project. “I was watching our volunteers and the work they were doing and looking at our programs and I realized, going through this training process was a natural step for us. To be able to partner with Warner Park Community Recreation Center and MSCR on this project has been a bonus! We work in the same building and interact with the same people. It’s good training and knowledge for all of us to have. I look forward to reaching out to our other partners and working with them to also become Dementia Friendly.”