by Logan Gruber
Barb Rebischke and Jodi Speicher are proud of the work Sauk Rapids is doing in becoming more dementia-friendly during the past year. At the April 27 city council meeting, they presented an update on their project.
One year ago, their team submitted an application for – and was awarded – an $8,000 grant to work on preparing Sauk Rapids an “ACT on Alzheimer’s” community.
“We are one of the founding fathers of this movement,” Rebischke said.
“ACT on Alzheimer’s” is a volunteer-driven organization bringing Minnesotans together to create supportive environments for everyone touched by Alzheimer’s disease while preparing Minnesota for its impacts. Sauk Rapids is one of only 33 communities in the state that was awarded grant money.
A dementia-friendly community is one which is informed about dementia and is safe and respectful of those with the disease as well as their families and caregivers. Such a community also provides support and options that foster an increased quality of life.
In October 2014, the “ACT on Alzheimer’s” team here started a community survey to find out what citizens, churches, community groups and city administrators envisioned for a dementia-friendly community. The results of this survey were presented during a community visioning meeting in March.
“The city was gracious enough to let us post our information on their website,” Speicher said.
The team, comprised of people from various walks of life across the Sauk Rapids area compiled various resources specific to the Sauk Rapids community on a page on the city’s website, which can be found by navigating to ci.sauk-rapids.mn.us, clicking on “Residents” near the top of the page, and then clicking on “ACT on Alzheimer’s” underneath the “In Residents:” section on the lower left-hand side of the page.
“Click onto our website . . . just to help yourself be more aware,” Rebischke said.
According to the group’s website, “Currently, there are more than 89,000 Minnesotans over age 65 living with this disease. It’s the sixth leading cause of death and the only one in the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Based on the current Sauk Rapids population, it’s estimated about 1,320 residents are over 65 years of age. Of those, an estimated 146 have Alzheimer’s. It’s also estimated there are about 440 residents over age 85, of which 146 are estimated to have Alzheimer’s. As the senior population increases, there will be more and more people affected by Alzheimer’s and related dementia.”
The group just recently submitted an application for a second grant, this one for $10,000. They hope to learn whether they receive the grant in early May. They have a few plans in place for the grant should it come through:
• In May, the Sauk Rapids group will present at the “Building Healthy Communities Conference” at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.
• In June, they plan to have a private showing of the Glen Campbell movie I’ll Be Me at the Sauk Rapids High School. The movie is a documentary following the country-music legend as he struggles with Alzheimer’s during his farewell tour of the United States, Australia and Europe.
• And in October, they plan to have Virtual Dementia Training.
“It’s a very intense 12-minute training,” Rebischke said. “We hope to offer that for people who are daring enough to take it.”
To see an ABC news reporter take the training, head to abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/virtual-dementia-tour-families-understanding-alzheimers-disease-11226182, or goo.gl/3kFEvF. The people who take the training are visibly shaken and are surprised at how difficult and stressful the virtual training is.
“ACT on Alzheimer’s” is looking for more volunteers to help spread awareness. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Rebischke at 320-259-3487.