Local agencies in Rock County are committed to providing support to people with dementia by learning more about recognizing the disease, communicating with those who may have dementia, and being able to direct anyone with questions to community resources. The Rock County (Wisconsin) Aging and Disability Resource Center’s Dementia Friendly initiative is being championed by public service agencies and businesses alike. The Beloit Transit System joins fellow Rock County system, Janesville Transit System, in earning “dementia friendly” certification and ability to post designation decals.
Michelle Gavin, Beloit Transit Director, notes that she’s enthusiastic about bringing together partner resources to help deliver a safer, more inclusive program. “The benefit of providing better recognition and empathy by staff can’t be over-emphasized. Dementia, like many disabilities, presents itself in so many ways – that having staff be able to identify passenger needs is critical to our mission. Programs like this help us all to understand the needs of our riders and helps transit assist with maintaining their independence for as long as feasible.”
According to a 2015 Janesville Gazette article, about 70% of people with dementia live and are cared for at home, and it is estimated that Rock County—which has a population of over 160,000 people—has approximately 4,000 residents who experience dementia. In addition to public agencies both small and large businesses are encouraged to conduct employee training, including major establishments such as Walgreens and Culver’s.
Rock County is one of many counties across the state of Wisconsin that are undertaking efforts and building coalitions to reach dementia friendly designation. As more older adults desire to remain in their homes and maintain independence as long as possible, transit ridership becomes an important option for medical and personal trips. Transit systems are very much front line liaisons with the rider, his or her family, caregivers, and the service community. Wisconsin’s statewide support of aging residents provides an example of how all age groups can become more familiar with signs of dementia, and as Gavin has noted, become more inclusive and neighbor-focused in daily interactions. Read the Rock County ADRC press release for more information: BELOIT Transit Becomes Dementia Friendly
Does your transit system have a dementia friendly designation or do you provide dementia awareness training for your staff?
NADTC Resource: Dementia Awareness and Transportation