Oakdale-based St. Croix Hospice has announced the launch of its North Star Dementia Program, providing specialized hospice care to people with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

The North Star Dementia Program consists of a team of medical professionals certified in dementia care by the Crisis Prevention Institute. The program focuses on proactive behavioral management that will result in a safer, more comfortable environment and better quality of life for patients, as well as their families and caregivers, said Jennifer Lemere, regional director of clinical operations in Oakdale. This includes focusing on non-pharmacological ways to treat dementia symptoms and educating families about the disease, Lemere said.

"A diagnosis of dementia affects not only the patient but their whole family," said Mandy Cogswell, a registered nurse and chief clinical officer at St. Croix Hospice, in a news release. "Declining physical health, as well as memory loss, mental deterioration and behavioral changes, combine to create significant emotional stress for caregivers."

Starting this program was motivated by an increasing number of people surpassing age 65 as a result of the aging Baby Boomer population and medical advancements leading to longer lifespans, Lemere said.

The number of people 65 and older living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States is projected to hit 7.1 million in 2025, nearly a 29% increase from 2018 numbers, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

St. Croix Hospice has branches in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.