Alzheimer’s & Aging

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A national model for the golden years' challenges

Across the state, thousands of families face tough choices in how to care for their older adult relatives. When memory loss or dementia is part of the picture, all of life’s choices – big and small – become that much more difficult.

The Need: A grayer Wisconsin brings opportunities to how aging is approached

For two decades, Bader Philanthropies has brought together partners from across the state and around the world to support families with compassion, creativity and the latest knowledge. Together, we have helped make Wisconsin a national leader in how we view growing older – yet, there is much more that needs to be done.

As the state’s average age rises, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia will become increasingly prevalent. This decade represents a pivotal opportunity for professionals, families and leaders to join in the fight.

Our Approach: Connecting partners, supporting families

At the center of our interest in healthy aging is Alzheimer’s disease, and finding ways to offer hope to families grappling with the long goodbye. Our efforts are guided by four strategies:

  • Program Development
    We help nurture and expand critical services with a focus on underserved urban and rural communities. From adult day programs that provide respite for families, to the memory loss clinics that identify the first signs of the disease, our support helps build a strong statewide network of care.
  • Education and Training
    Our grants and networks ensure that health professionals, volunteer caregivers and family members have opportunities to sharpen their skills and stay current on aging-related issues. With particular emphasis on frontline care workers, we address critical gaps such as worker retention and strengthen programs that enhance the quality of care provided to older adults throughout Wisconsin.
  • Applied Research
    We all need to reshape our thinking about how to effectively care for older adults. Our sole national funding strategy seeks innovative applied research projects that have direct links to Wisconsin, or that can provide a model for replication here in our home state.
  • Public Policy
    The policies that impact the lives of families are only as effective as the information behind them. While we do not shape specific legislation, we do create educational opportunities so decision-makers at all levels can better understand the complex, changing and current findings in aging – and how good policy can impact the well-being of older adults and their families.

Our Impact: An infrastructure for the future

Since 1992, the Foundation has committed more than $40 million in aging-related grants to help reshape how we view growing older. With the variety of needs and the diversity of the state, no single group can do it all. Networks, then, are at the heart of what we do.

Scores of community-based nonprofits are looking to answer local needs, while statewide partners seek to fill the gaps, including the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute (WAI) at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Since 1998, WAI has made major strides on a number of fronts, including a statewide network of multidisciplinary early diagnosis clinics and medical education. It also has WRAP, the Wisconsin Registry of Alzheimer’s Prevention, a long-term study of the adult children of those with Alzheimer’s, a model that we are working to bring to Israeli families who face the disease.

We are stronger together against Alzheimer’s disease

Wisconsin has lagged behind other states in setting a cohesive plan to guide policymakers and other leaders in how to approach the many facets of the disease. We are collaborating with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on statewide listening sessions, which have informed a task force that will recommend specific steps that can be implemented right away.

Bader Philanthropies believes that Wisconsin can continue to be a national leader, not just in how we address the challenges posed by Alzheimer’s disease, but in how we view growing older and the later stages of life. Connecting the best minds is the first step. The Foundation aims to nurture new ideas that can make a concrete difference for families today, while working with academic and institutional partners on education and research that will lead to long-term benefits to families.