AARP AARP States Wisconsin Livable Communities

Dementia Awareness a Top Priority for Governor

Sam and Helen with the Governor

At a recent press conference in Lake Geneva, Governor Walker thanked AARP Wisconsin for our great teamwork with the state Department of Health Services (DHS) in promoting the latest initiative in the Dementia-Capable Wisconsin program – The Dementia-Friendly Employers Toolkit – which provides employers with the tools they need to support workers who are caring for a loved one with dementia.

The toolkit includes steps employers can take that will lead to lower turnover, higher productivity, and a happier, healthier workforce. It has tips on how to recognize employees who may be caregivers to someone with dementia, and tips on understanding the needs of working caregivers; and options to support them. It also has resources to share with caregivers.

“I’ve heard from people around the state who are looking for direction and support in dealing with a loved one with dementia, but they don’t know where to turn for help,” DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades said. “This phase of our Dementia-Capable Wisconsin initiative offers employers ways to help their valuable employees work through the challenge, which is a win for both sides.”

Overall, the initiative was set up to help employers and communities across Wisconsin better prepare themselves for their aging populations.

For our part, AARP’s goal is to give communities access to the tools and resources they need to take care of those with dementia. We also want to make sure that supports are in place to help those who provide care for loved ones as they age.

A recent AARP study revealed that family caregivers in Wisconsin provided 538 million hours of care to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones each year. Almost half of those caregivers (46%) perform medical or nursing tasks for their loved ones with chronic physical and cognitive conditions.

About 578,000 family caregivers in Wisconsin help another adult loved one carry out daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, administering medications, driving to doctor visits, and paying bills.

Some of the things that will help family caregivers include improved workplace flexibility, respite care, tax credits and home care services. AARP also supports the Caregiver, Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, which will help family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital – and as they return home.

We need to do more to assist communities and caregivers in our state, and some of these basic supports are a good start. We are glad to see that the Governor and DHS understand how important this issue is for our state and have made the Dementia-Capable Wisconsin Initiative a priority going forward.

Check out AARP’s I Heart Caregivers Initiative and the AARP Caregiving Resource Center for more information.

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