Sauk County continues dementia-friendly efforts

May 8, 2019

Reedsburg Area Medical Center was recognized as a dementia friendly organization last April. With the number of Alzheimer’s Disease cases projected to increase throughout the nation, Spiritual Care Leader Tammy Koenecke said the goal is to make Reedsburg a dementia friendly community.

In January, a 10-person coalition was formed to promote dementia-related educational opportunities and events for the Reedsburg community. Representatives include individuals from the Reedsburg Public Library, Reedsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin, Aging and Disability Resource Center of Eagle Country and Reedsburg Area Medical Center. The group meets at 4 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Reedsburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

Signs of dementia listed on The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin website include short term memory loss, disorientation to time and place and personality changes. The Dementia Friendly America website defines a dementia friendly community as “a village, town, city or county that is informed, safe and respectful of individuals with the disease their families and caregivers,” providing supportive options for them.

Dementia Care Specialist Gina Laack said six million people in the nation have Alzheimer’s Disease. With the number projected to grow to 14-16 million by 2050, she’s noticing more local communities are taking efforts to become dementia friendly communities.

“Its organizations involvement, community members, individuals living with dementia within the community that is all involved in the process,” Laack said.

Koenecke said 10 to 15 businesses and organizations in Reedsburg have completed dementia friendly training, including the emergency management service, Reedsburg and Sauk County law enforcement, Reedsburg Utility, Reedsburg Public Library, Loganville first responders, and a dental office. Laack said teachers at the Baraboo School District received training in Dementia Live and Dementia Friends Training, and the high school’s sophomore class will receive dementia education training in May.

The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Eagle Country serves Sauk, Richland, Juneau, and Crawford counties. Laack said 110 people attended the center’s dementia conference and expo held in early April in Juneau County, and a coalition is being formed to spread awareness about dementia.

Other events hosted by the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Eagle Country include former Gov. Martin Schreiber sharing his story of caring for his wife, who lives with Alzheimer’s disease, at 1 p.m. May 8 at the Frank Fischer Senior Center in Lake Delton. A dementia live event, a simulation experience providing a real life scenario of those with dementia, will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo.

Laack said any businesses or organizations interested in learning about dementia training opportunities or joining the coalition in Reedsburg can contact the Aging and Disability Resource Center Baraboo office at 608-355-3289.