Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death for older adults in the nation and in the state of Wisconsin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain causing deterioration in memory and thinking, as well as judgment and reasoning ability. It also affects behavior, emotions and the ability to perform self-cares. Approximately 5 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, 1,232 Americans are diagnosed daily and 8,634 Americans are diagnosed weekly with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050 over 13 million Americans could have the disease. This disease costs the United States $100 billion per year in diagnosis, extended care, family caregiver illness and lost wages according to the National Institute on Aging. Neither Medicare nor most private health insurance cover the long-term services and support most people with dementia need.

There are educational programs and support services in place in Monroe County. One example is the Memory Café, a place to meet with others living with cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s or other related dementias and their care partner in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Once a month, this group offers a chance for everyone to meet in a supportive environment. Community resource information is available each month as well. Staff from Monroe County Health Department and the Aging and Disability Resource Center will be available to answer questions and visit with care partners during the café.

For more information, contact the Health Department at 608-269-8666 or the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 608-269-8691.

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Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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