More than 115,000 people in Wisconsin live with dementia. That number will double in the next 20 years, according to the state Department of Health Services.
Northern Wisconsin will likely see some of the biggest effects, with a population aging faster than the rest of the state. Communities and businesses can see the change coming, and at least one business seems well prepared.
"One of the first signs of dementia is financial confusion," said Rhonda Lewis, the Executive Administrative Assistant at Wausau-based River Valley Bank.
All 15 River Valley Bank branches in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula are now certified as dementia-friendly, thanks to Lewis' work.
She trained employees to make eye contact, speak slowly and clearly, and have patience for customers with dementia.
"It's all about dignity," Lewis said. "We want to make sure that we maintain the dignity of the individual because this is no disease that they had chosen to have."
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