Photo of a woman with dementia.

BLOG: Expect Dementia Friendly Service at River Valley!

Expect “Dementia Friendly” Service at River Valley!

Almost 6 million Americans have been diagnosed with dementia…and, sadly, that number will continue to rise to an anticipated 14 million by 2050. Most likely you know a family member, friend or an acquaintance that has, or is suspected to have, dementia.

As a business whose focus is on providing a high level of customer service, understanding the mannerisms of an individual coping with this disease became a priority at River Valley Bank. Memory loss and difficulty managing finances can be an early sign of dementia and some are unaware they may be exhibiting these signs. Therefore, the process of conducting financial transactions can become confusing and frustrating to both customer and employee.

For one bank employee at River Valley Bank, this issue hit close to the heart. “My father struggled with his memory loss in public settings,” shared River Valley Bank executive administrative assistant, Rhonda Lewis. “It is critical to assist an individual in maintaining their dignity and individualism where ever possible.”

After attending a training session with the Dementia Friendly Middleton Coalition, near Madison, WI, Lewis championed for a company-wide rollout of a dementia program. And River Valley Bank embraced it.

Photo of River Valley employees holding up a "We're Dementia Friendly" banner.Lewis championed for a company-wide rollout of a dementia program. And River Valley Bank embraced it."


Today, financial specialists, market managers, home lenders and Customer Experience Center staff, among others throughout all 15 of River Valley Bank locations in Wisconsin and Michigan, are trained on dementia friendly practices. Whether a customer is inquiring in person, on the phone or in an email, the staff on the other end of that inquiry is ready, willing and able to help them.

How Does Training Help?

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning and intellectual reasoning due to changes in the brain caused by disease. Symptoms of dementia can be confusing because your loved one may seem as healthy as ever, yet act differently.

River Valley’s employees have been educated to recognize cues and use specific communication skills to provide a positive experience and address circumstances with expertise and sensitivity. Employees are trained in making good eye contact, speaking slowly and clearly, and having patience when knowingly working with customers showing signs of dementia.

The ultimate goal is to help the customer determine how to best manage their finances.

River Valley Bank is a community bank.
It’s the right thing to do.”


Having A Dementia Friendly Status

A dementia friendly business is a business whose staff has been trained in how best to serve its customers who have dementia and has made changes within its environment to help improve the experience for individuals struggling with memory challenges.

Difficulty managing finances can be an early sign of dementia. Providing dementia friendly practices helps maintain a customer’s independence while also protecting them from problems such as unpaid expenses, squandered resources, avoidable guardianship, and financial abuse, neglect or exploitation. 

River Valley Bank will maintain its dementia friendly status with quarterly training sessions for new employees as well as refresher training for current staff.

Applauding River Valley’s trail-blazing stance on incorporating its dementia friendly status, Lewis says it’s a perfect fit for the culture of the bank. “River Valley Bank is a community bank. It’s the right thing to do.”




River Valley Bank is headquartered in Wausau, Wisconsin, serving communities throughout Wisconsin and Michigan with 15 innovative, full-service branches welcoming you with staff trained in dementia-friendly service and an incredible attitude! 

WausauRothschildWestonMerrillTomahawkMinocquaEagle RiverMiddletonIronwoodHoughtonCalumetMarquette and Iron Mountain

Rhonda Lewis
Executive Administrative Assistant
River Valley Bank
8329 Murphy Drive
Middleton, WI 53562

A "We Are Dementia Friendly" logo.

Six warning signs specific to money management
  1. Lapses in memory that cause people to miss appointments, confuse payments of documents, or repeat orders or questions
  2. Disorganization with documents or record keeping
  3. Worsening money management skills: forgetting to record transactions in checkbook or incorrectly filling out registers or checks
  4. Decline in ability to do basic math computations
  5. Difficulty grasping financial concepts that were previously understood
  6. Poor judgement with finances such as drastic changes in investment strategy or interest in get-rich-quick schemes

Source:  Dementia Friendly America