A dozen Minnesota organizations, including Wadena County Public Health, were recently awarded grants from the Minnesota Board on Aging to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, promote early diagnosis and connect caregivers to resources.

Wadena County Public Health in Wadena received $49,257 to identify evidence-based staff training to utilize in future presentations to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, implement a community dementia awareness education plan, and to promote screening and early identification of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The Minnesota Board on Aging granted a total of $741,781. Other cities and organizations receiving grants were the city of Richfield, DARTS in West St. Paul, FamilyMeans in Stillwater, First Community Health Organization/The Victory Fund in Duluth, Giving Voice Initiative in Bloomington, JustUs Health in St. Paul, Koochiching Aging Options in International Falls, Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area, Northwoods Caregivers in Bemidji, Senior Community Services in Minnetonka, and Volunteers of America Minnesota in Edina.

“Dementia is not a normal part of aging,” said Susan Mezzenga, chair of the Minnesota Board on Aging, in a news release. “Timely diagnosis using appropriate tools is key to treatment and support.”

An estimated 97,000 Minnesotans over age 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. That number is projected to increase by 24% to 120,000 by 2025. Alzheimer’s poses an array of challenges — emotional, medical, financial and social — to family members of those with the disease. Seventy percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are cared for in their homes; 75% of that care is given by family, friends and neighbors, according to the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment.