La Crosse dementia experts connect families with resources and friendships

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Dementia puts a lot of pressure on families. One in 10 people aged 65 and over suffers from dementia. This week is Dementia Friendly Week in La Crosse County. Tuesday, officials of the Resource Center on Aging and Disability hosted an event at Myrick Park to connect these people to healthy resources.

Myrick Park was the scene of a well-deserved conversation.

“I think it’s good,” said Karen Wilson, an event attendee.

Kelsey Flock, a dementia care specialist, and her team have designed activities to keep older residents physically and mentally active.

“It’s the memory cafe, something that didn’t exist last year, like a lot of other things in 2020,” Flock said. “We’re coming back in a new exterior way,” said Flock.

Dementia affects more than 2,000 people in the county. There is no cure. This reality does not prevent Larry Wilson and his wife, Karen, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, from enjoying a moment at the park.

“The good weather and the people to talk to,” said Larry.

Flock’s experience goes far beyond a college degree. For her, dementia is personal.

“It’s always difficult when it’s in your own family. Especially as a professional, ”said Flock, who has two grandmothers with dementia. “I have all the expertise and the know-how, but I am also the granddaughter and the member of the family.

Karen and Larry’s family had been through this before Karen’s diagnosis.

“I lived it with my mom,” Karen said. “So I knew what was going to happen. “

Flock is spreading the word about the people behind the statistics.

“Most of them are more normal than I am,” said Larry Wilson.

It helps more families find the help they need and realize that they are far from alone.

“Events like this give us hope,” said Larry.

The Wilsons weren’t the only ones having fun on Tuesday.

“It was more than I expected”, a Holmen resident said Sue Anne Ross. “It was great.”

Dementia might not affect most people now, but Flock said the risk increases with age.

“Age is the # 1 risk factor. It’s also the risk factor that we can’t control, so we’re all at risk, ”Flock said.

Tuesday’s activities are a community conversation these people have been waiting for.

“We miss our people,” Ross said.

People who are often misunderstood, but not forgotten by those who love them.

“It’s like a little family,” Flock said.

The population with dementia is expected to double by 2040 in La Crosse County. CCRA staff said these events help prevent social isolation. There are more events throughout the week.