June 3, 2014
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

Health Services Department Partners with AARP Wisconsin to Support People with Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias

Agencies Will Work Together Toward the Creation of Dementia-Friendly Communities

MADISON-Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Kitty Rhoades today announced that DHS has partnered with AARP to support and encourage the development of dementia-friendly communities across the state.

"Already, a handful of Wisconsin communities have discovered that we all have a stake in making sure that people with dementia live safely and securely within their communities as long as they possibly can, so it makes sense to partner with AARP-an organization with a great reputation for supporting people throughout the changes aging brings-as we look to make Wisconsin a dementia-friendly state."

A dementia-friendly community is not an official distinction, but it does involve communities coming together to increase awareness about Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and figuring out ways to assist people with memory problems so that they don't become isolated. One example might be training store clerks to be sensitive to customers with memory loss and to assist them in finding items that they need. Another example is the creation of the Silver Alert program recently signed into law by Governor Walker. The system notifies the public of a missing elderly person, similar to the Amber Alert program for missing and endangered children.

"Helping to create dementia-friendly communities in Wisconsin is in line with AARP's mission to provide security, protection and empowerment to all older residents," said Sam Wilson, State Director of AARP Wisconsin. "We look forward to working with DHS to create age-friendly communities for all Wisconsinites, including the critical need we see for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias."

In 2010, Wisconsin had nearly 120,000 residents with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias, and that number is expected to increase dramatically over the next 25 years as the Baby Boomer generation reaches age 65 and older. To date, there are approximately eight communities in Wisconsin who have become, or are working toward becoming, dementia-friendly.

Dementia-friendly communities are a component of Secretary Rhoades's initiative, "Dementia-Capable Wisconsin". To learn about the initiative, visit:

To learn more about AARP Wisconsin and its services, visit: