Mile Bluff awarded grant to create dementia-friendly community

Mile Bluff was recently awarded a $7,500 Rural Health Outreach grant from MultiPlan, an organization that supports health insurance companies and subscribers. Using the generous gift, Mile Bluff Medical Center will form a coalition with other community agencies - such as the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance and the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) - to establish dementia-friendly communities and educational opportunities.

"We're excited about this grant on many levels,” said Martha Airth-Kindree, Mile Bluff’s grant writer. “A dementia-friendly community involves individuals listening, showing respect and lending a helping hand. Small steps do make a difference. They can build into broader community efforts involving partnerships with social services, law enforcement, local government, businesses, civic groups and community members."

The population of elderly individuals in Juneau County is 3.4 percent higher than the state average of 16.1 percent. It is estimated that 559 of those seniors are currently living with a dementia diagnosis. These individuals, along with their caregivers, may find it difficult to navigate through the community as the disruptive dementia symptoms begin to occur in public more frequently. In most cases, the public is not well versed on dementia disorders, and has not been equipped with the proper tools to best interact with those living with these conditions. The unfortunate result of this lack of understanding often leads to isolation for those who have dementia.

The number of people impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is expected to increase as the Baby Boomer generation ages. With this in mind, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is working with partners across the state to develop and implement a new plan that creates a ‘dementia-capable’ Wisconsin. The goals of this plan include increasing understanding and reducing the stigmas associated with dementia, as well as improving and expanding support and education for family caregivers.

A dementia-friendly community is made up of businesses and neighbors who recognize the signs and understand the needs and actions of those with dementia. In such a community, people with dementia live as independently as possible, and are engaged in activities. With the help of the MultiPlan grant, Mile Bluff will work to address these dementia-friendly community goals through an educational seminar for caregivers and community members, along with the design and implementation of a ‘memory café’ which would be set to be up and operating in Mauston at the start of 2019. The café will provide a social gathering place for individuals living with dementia, and their care partners. Mile Bluff and other area agencies are also planning an educational seminar for the community in the spring of 2019.

Mile Bluff would like to thank MultiPlan for the grant. The staff looks forward to partnering with the ADRC of Eagle Country and the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin, in creating a dementia-friendly community.

The coalition is looking for input from community members as well. If you or a family member have been impacted by dementia, or if you would like to learn more about becoming a ‘dementia-friendly’ business, please contact Martha Airth-Kindree at 608-847-1495 for more information.