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Northwoods counties to gain new Dementia Care Specialist positions

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In Wisconsin, there are more than 120,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and more than 196,000 family members and friends serving as caregivers.

There will soon be more support for those people in the Northwoods.

Oneida, Vilas, and Forest Counties are in the process of hiring a dementia care specialist.

The Dementia Care Specialist Program in Wisconsin makes sure those caregivers have the resources they need.

Michael Bruin is the Senior Director of Public Policy for the Alzheimer’s Association.

He says, while it’s not always the cause of death, one third of seniors die with dementia.

On top of that, Bruin says 57% of those caregivers in Wisconsin have a chronic condition themselves.

“They’re trying to take care of a loved one and it takes such a toll on their own physical and mental well-being that they’re not able to provide as good quality care to those individuals. And it takes a huge toll on their own personal health,” said Bruin.

The Dementia Care Specialists will help people with dementia remain active in the community and provide the support caregivers may need.

Bruin says that’s one of the reasons the Alzheimer’s Association was able to get support from Governor Evers and the Republican led legislature to include funding to ensure all 72 counties had a full time or part time specialist.

The position is paid for by the state and hired by each county’s Aging and Disability Resource Center.

Bruin called the program a win-win situation.

“It’s better care for the individual who has dementia and their caregivers. But it also keeps the cost down because it allows those individuals to stay in their homes which ultimately decreases the amount of money that we have to spend out of the Medicaid budget to put people in more expensive institutionalized care,” he said.

Many counties already have a Dementia Care Specialist program. The pilot program for it started in 2013.

Oneida, Vilas, and Forest Counties are all in the process of hiring a specialist.

Vilas County is hiring for a part-time position.

Forest and Taylor Counties share an ADRC office. It will either hire two part-time specialists, one for each county. Or one full-time position that will cover both.

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