What is dementia

Dementia is a term used to describe the symptoms of a group of more than 100 conditions characterized by a decline in memory or other thinking skills that affects a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Some of these symptoms may include, difficulty with problem-solving, language and social abilities and forgetfulness. There are over 400 types of dementia with Alzheimer’s being the most common type. Each stage and phase of dementia is represented by varying changes in physical and cognitive (thinking skills) abilities. At this time, there is no known treatment available to reverse the effects of dementia. Some individuals may experience a lessening of symptoms with certain medications. It is important for individuals with dementia and their loved ones speak to his/her physician regarding available options and power of attorney documents.

Why does is matter

There are approximately 5.7 million people in the United States living with dementia or 10% of individuals ages 65 and older. The number one risk factor for dementia is age, effecting 32% of individuals aged 85 or older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As the population of the United States ages, it will be increasingly likely that everyone will know someone with dementia. Although, dementia is an individual disease, its effects are felt by loved ones, friends, family and communities.

How can I help

You can offer support to your community by joining the Dementia Friendly Community Coalition (DFCC) of Marinette County. The DFCC is a group of healthcare professionals, community members, and advocates for senior health and wellness who support Wisconsin’s statewide efforts to improve the lives of those living in our communities who suffer from dementia related illnesses. For more information on how to join the DFCC please call 715-732-3850 or go to DFCWI.com.

Your business or organization can become Dementia Friendly via the Purple Angel Program. The DFCC supports the Purple Angel Program in Marinette County. Business and public institutions are eligible to become Dementia Friendly at no cost to them. Employees go through training sessions to learn how to offer hospitality and supports to individuals with dementia and dementia related symptoms. Training can be scheduled through the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) 715-732-3850.

Where do I find help

If you or a loved one are suffering from dementia and need support, please contact any of the following:

■ The Alzheimer’s Association (Alz.org): 920-462-2110

■ The ADRC: 715-732-3850

■ Marinette County Elderly Services: 715-854-7453

Meghan Rutherford is the Dementia Friendly Community Coalition president. She can be contacted at 715-732-3850.