I like to have a signature color. One that when I wear it seems to make people say, “Wow! That color looks great on you! You should wear it more often.” I went through a coral (aka salmon) phase a few years ago but didn’t want to get in a rut. Then I’d become monochrome. I’m a big fan of periwinkle (sets off my eyes, in case you were wondering) but only have a couple pieces. However, I’m eschewing (isn’t that a fun word? Seems like chewing but isn’t) both coral and periwinkle and going straight to purple. Perhaps lavender, violet or lilac hues. Yep, it’s all purple for me. That’s because purple seems to be the universal color for dementia awareness, understanding and acceptance. And a purple angel in a business or restaurant’s window means its staff is trained in dementia awareness so those living with dementia will feel welcome.

As I told you in my last column, we were firing up Study Circles on Creating a Dementia Friendly Community. Those were five weeks long, capped by the Action Forum on November 4th. What a raging success! Not only did we have over 70 people participate, over 100 came to the Action Forum! Five initiatives came out of the Study Circles in our quest to make Sheridan County dementia friendly.

They include:

Dementia Friends – creating communities where people living with dementia feel accepted and understood. This will involve training everyone from neighbors to waiters to clerks about dementia, how it affects people’s lives and how they can make a positive difference to people living with dementia in our county.

Community Strategic Planning for Dementia Friendly Physical Spaces – encouraging meaningful activity and social interaction while reducing risks and providing quiet, safe spaces. This also includes researching the inventory of facilities which care for dementia patients.

Building a Healthcare Continuum for Dementia Needs – assuring integration of care across health and social services. This might encompass recruiting elder care professionals, providing ongoing education on eldercare and dementia for all healthcare professionals and promoting cognitive screenings, especially for early diagnosis.

Support Center(s) and Navigators – where those living with dementia and their families can receive initial and ongoing support. It could either be a central place or several locations where trained volunteers can help guide those living with dementia and their caregivers to appropriate resources and navigate whatever processes are involved.

Caregiver Support and Respite – involving, including and caring for those living with dementia. That might look like support groups in outlying communities, short break programs and expanded senior companion programs.

And if all this isn’t great enough, Australia, the United Kingdom, Minnesota and Wisconsin are already doing a lot of these things so we don’t even have to create something from scratch. There are videos, brochures, websites – you name it – all available to us for our community. Sound intriguing? Want to be a part of something momentous? We’re going to start meetings in the next couple of weeks. Call or email me – I can hook you up. I bet you look darling in purple.