Do you know or care for someone who has memory problems, has trouble coming up with the right words or easily becomes lost?  If so, then you may be one of many people who are touched by Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather it refers to a collection of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Many dementias are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse.

People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, remembering appointments or traveling out of their neighborhood.  These symptoms may be incorrectly attributed to stress or life distractions, but can get worse over time and become severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

One in Six Employees is a Caregiver

caregiverNovember is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and National Caregivers Month, so it is a perfect time to raise awareness about the disease and the impact it has, not only on the person living with dementia, but on caregivers too.  Data shows that one in six employees provide care to an older adult, usually a parent or other family member.

Caregiving can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging and overwhelming, especially when balancing work and family life. Furthermore, as more people are staying in the workforce for a longer number of years, it will be increasingly important for employers to make sure the right systems are in place to respond to the needs of both an aging population and those who support them.

‘Dementia-Friendly Employers Toolkit’ Can Help

In an effort to recognize the needs of an aging workforce and those caring for them, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has been collaborating with the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Association, and various other statewide organizations and community resources to develop innovative approaches to dementia care in the workplace and within our communities.

DHS recently released a Dementia-Friendly Employers Toolkit  to assist employers in supporting their employees and connecting them with needed information and assistance that can help make are giving less stressful. DHS also offers a website where you can learn more about how Wisconsin is becoming dementia-capable.

For the growing number of people affected by or living with dementia, there are an increasing number of resources available for support. We encourage you to share these resources in your workplace and within your communities.

Annette Cruz

Annette Cruz

Annette Cruz was The Alliance health policy consultant. Cruz was responsible for analyzing health policy issues at the state and national level and working with The Alliance Health Policy Committee to develop strategies to influence high impact issues.

Cruz began public service as a staff person in the Wisconsin State Legislature, where she specialized in health and social services policy issues. She later served as a health policy advisor and policy director for Governors Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum. Most recently she served as the director of government affairs in a consultant role for Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin.

Cruz received her master's degree in health services administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she also earned a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science & Law.
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