Lt. Governor Barnes hears needs for aging and disability population in Central Wis.

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin (ADRC-CW) helps thousands of older adults and adults living with a disability keep their independence throughout Marathon, Wood, Lincoln and Langlade Counties.

On Monday, the ADRC-CW held a roundtable discussion about how their work supports the needs of the community and invited the Lieutenant Governor to be part of that conversation.

According to Wisconsin Public Radio, state health officials estimate the number of residents 65 and older will increase from 14% to 24% over a 30-year span, starting in 2010.

It's organizations like the ADRC that are working to support those people, as well as adults who live with a disability.

Lt. Gov. Barnes applauded their work. He said he wants to make sure as a state, there are resources available to help people in that demographic. He said the Joint Finance Committee removed some provisions int he state budget from programs that could have benefited seniors.

"Specifically dementia care specialists, and that was one of the concerns that I heard in the room is there are not enough dementia care specialists as that population is growing, and we are responsible as a state that that is a population that's properly cared for," Lt. Gov. Barnes said.

Right now, the Department of Health Services website shows there are 21 dementia care specialists, covering 34 counties, including Portage. There are an additional three specialists covering tribal areas.

"Dementia care specialists really help be there for caregivers and for individuals who have dementia, to help them get connected to medical professionals and get that diagnosis sooner, so they can quality for other programs and services," said Jonette Arms, executive director for ADRC-CW.

Arms said this year they requested funding for 27 dementia care specialists. She hoped that would add one in Central Wisconsin.

Arms also stressed the need and support of specialized transportation, that helps seniors and those with disabilities get around and stay connected to their community.