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United Community Center offers program for Spanish-speaking community caring for loved ones with dementia

Posted at 6:15 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 21:59:29-04

MILWAUKEE — Learning how to take care of a loved one with memory loss or Alzheimer's can be difficult. In the Latinx community, many say it can be even more challenging to get the education they need when Spanish is their only language.

"It's very important to offer it in a language that they are able to understand. ​With the translation, there are a lot of things that can be missed so sometimes it can misconstrue the results of a test," said Ana Bernal, a registered nurse with the United Community Center's Memory Clinic.

That's why in 2020 the United Community Center in Milwaukee, which has the only bilingual memory clinic in Southeast Wisconsin, launched Fortaleciendo Familias. A program that offers translation services and free bilingual caregiver training to family members of people with dementia.

"Latinos are one and a half times more likely to get Alzheimer's disease or other related dementia's compared to their Caucasian counterparts," said Bernal.

The program, which is offered online, hosts a series of four sessions to discuss what dementia is, behavior management, future planning, and self-care for caregivers.

"Before we used to see around nine to 10 people a month. Now we're seeing anywhere from 14 to 15 people a month," said Bernal.

Bernal says education is critical for the Hispanic community, especially since there's a common misconception surrounding Alzheimer's disease.

"Some people may confuse it with a mental health disorder and it's not. It's a neurocognitive disorder," said Bernal. "So, education and knowing that their loved one is not acting a certain way because they want to, it's because of what's happening to the brain."

Bernal says the free programs are available to undocumented immigrants as well.

"As we know, there are a lot of people that are undocumented. That doesn't mean they don't need services. They need the services even more," said Bernal.

By providing these resources, the center hopes to create equal access to quality healthcare services for anyone who needs it.

"That's what we are here for. We want to make sure that when you take care of somebody with Alzheimer's disease, you have to build a community. But first, you start at the core, which is family," said Bernal.

To connect with the program, Call 414-649-2808 or email Vanessa Anciani at

To visit the center's website and learn more about Fortaleciendo Familias, click here.

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