The Healthy Carolinians of the Outer Banks Dementia Task Force offers training to area businesses to help staff recognize dementia and Alzheimer’s,, so the community can better support those with dementia and their caregivers.

“Basically, it’s the behaviors, looking at what are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s: How do you know that person has Alzheimer’s? How do you communicate with that person and how do you change your behaviors to make their experiences a good experience so they don’t get frustrated or upset so everyone can enjoy their outing,” says Dianne Denny, chair of the Dementia Task Force. “Anything that’s out of their ‘norm,’ they tend to get overwhelmed and that’s when you potentially see their frustration and the behaviors that go with it.”

Five Outer Banks restaurants completed the course before 2017’s peak tourist season, including:

Black Pelican Oceanfront Restaurant

Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant

Kill Devil Grill

Mako Mike’s Beach Grille

Pamlico Jack’s

Each of the five restaurants displays the purple seahorse that denotes its Dementia Friendly Status. Purple is the nationally recognized color for Alzheimer’s.

In choosing the symbol of dementia friendliness, the Task Force looked to the root of it all: the brain. The hippocampus — the region of the brain that is critical for learning and memory — is shaped like a seahorse. The Latin word “hippocampus” is derived from the Greek words hippos (“horse”) and kampus (“sea monster”), the combination of words used to describe the seahorse in Greek mythology.

Rather than offer specific dates for training, Dementia Task Force members work with restaurants to schedule training convenient to its staff. There is no cost associated with the courses. The workshops are paid for by money raised during the Alzheimer’s Walk. This year’s walk is Saturday, Oct. 7, at Spring Arbor of the Outer Banks.

-— Carrie Brothers

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