Learn how the Aging and Disability Resource Center of La Crosse County supports older adults and people with disabilities.
The Aging and Disability Resource Center of La Crosse County works with older adults, caregivers and adults with disabilities to help them remain independent and safe in our community.
In practice, that means the ADRC does everything from serving hot meals to hundreds of older adults every week, providing unbiased information on aging or living with a disability, running support groups and exercise classes, and so much more.
“Our staff love working with people and helping them plan for the future,” says Carissa Pagel-Smith, ADRC manager for La Crosse County. “We serve anyone who comes through our door or gives us a call.”
No appointments are needed at the ADRC’s office, which is located on the ground floor of the La Crosse County Health and Human Services Building, 300 N. Fourth St., in downtown La Crosse.
For older adults and people with disabilities, questions about housing, benefits, transportation and caregiving can be anxiety-inducing. The ADRC’s team helps lessen the burden by connecting people with community resources and explaining how those resources work. This can include help getting adaptive equipment for the home, advice and support in applying to long-term programs, and transportation services.
“We don’t want anyone to think twice about calling or visiting us,” says Pagel-Smith. “We have a lot of experience doing this, and we want to use that experience to help anyone in our community who can benefit from it.”
Support to help people remain independent can include home visits to see someone in their environment and look at ways to help that person stay at home or perhaps consider long-term care options. Another vital and popular service provided by the ADRC is its nutrition program. This involves running congregate meal sites at the Holmen Area Community Center, the Community Connections Center on the northside of La Crosse, and the Onalaska Community Center. A fourth congregate meal site at the South Side Neighborhood Center in La Crosse is expected to open later this month.
“Hundreds of people go to our congregate meal sites, which run at lunchtimes Monday to Friday,” says Pagel-Smith. “In addition to a hot meal, the program really serves as a way to build community, and in turn combat loneliness and isolation.”
There’s a suggested donation of $4 per meal, but there’s no obligation to pay. On top of the people who eat together at the meal sites, many meals are delivered to older adults or people with disabilities who are unable to travel. In 2022, the ADRC served just over 85,000 meals in La Crosse County to about 900 individuals.
Each of the meal sites also are used for other ADRC programs. This includes things like grief workshops, emergency planning sessions, caregiver support groups and exercise classes. You can go to lacrossecounty.org/adrc or call 608-785-5700 or 1-800-500-3910 to get information on any ADRC programs.
The ADRC also produces La Crosse Senior Life, a monthly newspaper that’s mailed free of charge to hundreds of older adults (60 and up) around the county. Call the ADRC to get your name on the list. Beyond the array of programs the ADRC provides, the organization also serves as an advocate for older adults and people with disabilities, whose voices otherwise are not always heard.
“Our population is aging, and we are going to see more need for services to our friends and neighbors who may be dealing with a disability or are caregivers for someone with dementia,” Pagel-Smith notes. “We are here to be a voice for people facing those situations, which all of us will experience at some point in our lives.”
The ADRC’s services are provided on a voluntary basis, which means they are not a good resource for someone in crisis. In those situations, it’s better to call the county’s crisis line at 608-784-4357.