Forum urges action on Alzheimer’s projects

Roseville group seeks to make city ‘dementia friendly’

Warren Wolfe
special to the Review

Within a year, Roseville might see new ecumenical religious services for people with memory loss and their caregivers.

Or a network of trained "gatekeeper" volunteers in neighborhoods and businesses helping seniors who show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Or programs to help residents learn about dementia and how to help.

These are among proposals endorsed by area residents last week at a community forum at the Fairview Community Center Oct. 21, exploring how to make Roseville more effective in helping people with dementia and their families—and helping others become more comfortable in stepping up to offer support.

"This is such an important area," said Dwight Haberman, 83, who moved to Roseville in December with his wife, Debra, after spending most of their married life in Isanti. "We had to deal with this with some of our relatives, and we know how tough this can be for families."

Community forum

The event attracted 53 people, including more than a dozen from the Roseville Act on Alzheimer’s volunteer group that sponsored the event. The group began intense meetings early this year, conducted a survey of city residents and businesses, and developed five areas of potential action that it asked those at the forum to consider.

Attendees recommended that the Act group concentrate on three major areas: increasing services for people with dementia and their caregivers; increasing community awareness and understanding of dementia and how to interact with those with dementia; and making it easier for anyone to make referrals to helpful resources.

Less important, they said, were working to raise businesses’ awareness of Alzheimer’s and increasing volunteer opportunities. In fact, several at the forum noted that both of those issues might be addressed somewhat through several of the specific projects they suggested.

The Act on Alzheimer’s group received an $8,000 grant this year through the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging to pursue the work. The group will meet soon to choose one to three projects for next year to help make the Roseville area more dementia friendly, and will seek an additional $10,000 grant.

"The community input at the forum was vital in helping us focus our thinking," said Kitty Gogins, a business consultant who has been coordinating the effort. "We may find projects that address several of our top concerns—for instance, increasing services but also raising community awareness."

Additional projects discussed

Roseville Act on Alzheimer’s is part of an expanding statewide program, now involving 32 communities, that seeks to improve the quality of life for families dealing with dementia diseases, as well as helping friends, neighbors and businesses become more effective at dealing with dementia.

Among other projects supported at the forum last week:

• Help recruit volunteers for The Gathering, a twice-a-month day-care program for people with dementia. With more volunteers, the program could be offered more often to more people.

• Bring to Roseville a caregiver-mentoring program, developed by the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, that pairs current family caregivers with past caregivers of relatives with dementia.

• Offer booths and displays about dementia at community events, sponsor programs about issues affecting people coping with dementia, and enhance use of a new section about Alzheimer’s and dementia on the city of Roseville’s website, making information available on paper for people without computers.

For more information about the Roseville Act on Alzheimer’s program, visit www.ActonAlz.org or search "Alzheimers" at www.ci.roseville.mn.us.

Warren Wolfe wrote about aging issues for 21 years at the Star Tribune. He retired last year. He and his wife, Sheryl Fairbanks, helped care for their four parents, two with dementia, and are active in the Roseville Act on Alzheimer’s project.

 

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