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A local hospital was recognized by the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin for training staff and taking steps to help understand those who suffer from dementia.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held April 17 at Reedsburg Area Medical Center to recognize the hospital as a dementia friendly organization becoming the third hospital in the state to receive the honor. Members of the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Sauk County, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin and several staff members of Reedsburg Area Medical Center were present for the ceremony and certificate presentation.

Over 750 staff members at Reedsburg Area Medical Center are trained to recognize signs of person who has dementia. RN/Spiritual Care Coordinator Tammy Koenecke said with different departments trained, it will give staff members a better understanding of how to react if they encounter a person with dementia.

“Folks that come here will be able to know their loved ones and their care givers of these individuals will be cared for in a compassionate way based on a deeper understanding of what it is they are going through,” Koenecke, who is also a trainer for the dementia friendly community initiative, said.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin Columbia/Sauk Outreach Specialist Janet Wiegel said signs of dementia include confusion, repetition, short-term memory loss, behavioral and mood changes. She said in Wisconsin there are over 120,000 people diagnosed with dementia and 60,000 people who are not diagnosed. Seventy percent of people diagnosed with dementia are still living at home.

To be recognized as a dementia friendly business or organization, over 50 percent of staff has to be trained to recognize signs of dementia and designate a team leader to be a liaison between the organization and a task force. This fall, a task force will begin in Reedsburg to train other local businesses and organizations to recognize dementia and to hopefully become a Dementia Friendly Community.

“The idea is we go out into the community and train different organizations that would work with folks who have dementia and try to help them understand what the disease is how it affects a person and how to help them,” Wiegel said.

Wiegel said in Baraboo the Aging and Disability Resource Center and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin have been training law enforcement, city departments, county employees and other businesses and organizations on how to recognize dementia.

Contact Erica Dynes at 608-393-5346 or on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews.

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