Grants Aid Aging Programs

A Milwaukee philanthropic foundation has included three regional programs in a recent grant totaling $1,082,214 to fund various Alzheimer’s and aging efforts throughout Wisconsin. The total includes $132,780 to the three area programs, including a two-year $59,800 grant to support Ministry Door County Medical Center’s M.IN.D. (Memory in Development) program for adults with mild cognitive impairment or who are in early-stage dementia.

Christy Wisniewski, outreach specialist with Ministry Memory Clinic, said the successful program is for both those suffering from early memory loss and their caregivers. She said grants from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation allowed the program to be held for the first time last year, with a six-week session in Algoma and another six-week session in Sister Bay.

Local providers are brought in to educate both the patients and caregivers on dementia-specific topics ranging from diet to exercise to identifying various support programs in the community.

For example, Wisniewski said a gentleman who was living alone attended the program and was able to hook up with local resources to support his independence, including the meals on wheels program and in-home care providers.

“The Helen Bader Foundation [HBF] is very aware of the need here, now that we have the largest population of older adults in Wisconsin,” she said. “They want to support programs in Door County.”

The 2010 census put the age 65 and above population in Door County at 25.4 percent of the total population; the state rate is 14.8 percent.

While dates have not yet been set for the 2015 Memory in Development program, Wisniewski said those interested in attending the programs, which will be offered one day per week for six weeks in Algoma and Sturgeon Bay, should contact her at 920.746.3504 or the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Door County at 920.746.2372 for more information.

Another grant recipient is N.E.W. Curative Rehabilitation, Inc., which offers rural adult day care programs in both Door and Kewaunee counties. It is receiving a two-year $40,000 grant from HBF. The grant supports the redesign of programs in Sister Bay and Luxemburg. Due to the agency’s comprehensive experience in providing this service, both communities will continue to be positively impacted by the adult day care programs.

One of the challenges both programs have seen is relatively low turnout, despite the documented need for these services. While the low census has caused financial strain for these programs, this does not diminish how important these services are to families that use them. This grant will not only provide general operating support, but more significantly, it will facilitate new ideas and models on how to enhance, collaborate and look at other ways to adapt adult day care in rural areas to sustain this community resource.

“Through Helen Bader Foundation’s support, these programs will improve the lives of people living in rural areas,” said Diana Brown, vice president of program services. “The successful model of adult day care is far less expensive for the consumer than in-home care or assisted living, and it provides adults with the support they need. We want to be there to assist families, now and in the future, to help them to continue living in their own homes, which is what they want.”

Door-Tran, Inc., a staple in transportation for older adults in Door County, is receiving a two-year $32,980 grant from HBF. Door-Tran is a community network dedicated to connecting people to transportation services that are affordable, available and accessible. Grant funds will help offset transportation costs for those in need and for general operating support.

This grant will aid in the lack of affordable transportation services in Door County. The Door-Tran program works closely with the Door 2 Door van service with various zones and rates and operates a half-price travel voucher for local taxi providers and the Washington Island Ferry. Another amenity of the grant is the Veteran Volunteer Transportation program, which provides transportation for veterans to medical appointments.

“It is crucial to extend support for older adults and veterans,” said Pamela Busch, executive director of Door-Tran, Inc. “There is a significant need for transportation services in the county, and HBF’s grant makes it possible to accommodate these needs.”

HBF and a countywide volunteer transportation program that consists of volunteer drivers using their own vehicles will greatly impact the lives of older adults and veterans in Door County.

To date, HBF has given nearly $43 million in related grants, making it the largest private funder of Alzheimer’s and aging in the state.

“With the rapidly increasing number of older adults, we have been hearing from communities across Wisconsin on how to address the various health, wellness, and social needs of Wisconsin’s aging community,” said Helen Ramon, program officer and manager of HBF’s efforts to address Alzheimer’s and aging. “We at HBF are continually striving to keep our home state a national leader in how we serve older adults, and we’re impressed by the dedication of individuals and communities that share that vision for an elder-friendly Wisconsin.”