A new program for those suffering from dementia and their carers begins in La Crosse

A new program for those suffering from dementia and their carers begins in La Crosse

LA CROSSE, WIS. (WEAU) – Tuesday was the first meeting of a new program offered by the department of La Crosse Parks.

Connect Smart involves people with dementia as well as their caregivers.

Each meeting will have a different theme and work to help promote physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills for those with dementia.

"At the moment we are working on music therapy and as the caretakers come together we have great collaboration with the University, Gunderson, [and] Mayo, "said La Brerosinka, Parks and Recreation Program Facilitator.

The program starts with each other and then separates the caretakers into another room.

Program co-ordinators acknowledge how difficult it is to be a carer for someone living with dementia and that this is why Connect Smart is also a program.

"Being a care partner for someone living with dementia can be very stressful and very extreme," Brezinka said. "So when we come together in that group, it's not just a lot of things we do to share with each other and get good support."

The program is mainly funded by a grant from Bader Philanthropies Inc. The grant amounts to $ 39,000 and will fund Smart Connect for two years.

The Tuesday meeting was the first of its kind and it put a lot of work on the ground.

"I was taking them one by one in the other room and asking them orientation questions," said Daniel Tsolak, La Crosse Parks and Recreation Program Co-ordinator. "Like [asking them] where they are and who they are. "

Some volunteers help run the program and Parks and Rec hopes that more local students will be involved in the future.

For many, the program is an interactive opportunity.

I think the socialization is vital. Going out and meeting with others, not being home and isolated, "Brezinka said.

Connect Smart is offered first and Tuesday Tuesday every month at the Black River Beach Neighborhood Center in La Crosse.

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