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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

LeBlanc: Tri Purple Angel ambassadors spread awareness

Common Sense Caregiving


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The Purple Angel logo is the international symbol representing all types of dementia. In November I had the honor of being selected to be one of 50 international Purple Angel Ambassadors. Hailing from England, Germany, Australia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Singapore, Ukraine, Canada, the United States and other nations, my fellow ambassadors are all dedicated dementia advocates.

The founder of this project is British citizen Norm McNamara. With the help of Ostrich Care, his advocate program quickly has spread worldwide.

As Ambassadors we are doing what we can to spread dementia awareness in any way we can, even going so far as to educate retail stores on the correct way to respond to customers with dementia.

Because I know what to look for, I constantly am seeing signs of dementia in even my own bookstore. Knowing the proper way to address these situations, I make sure these people feel safe and stay calm. Many times I have customers who bring in their loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's. When this happens I suggest they leave them up front with me while they shop.

Personally, I enjoy sitting with them as they always seem to have an interesting story to tell about their past. Because of all of my experience with the disease, I know the correct ways to get these thought-provoking conversations going.

Here in the United States our hospitals and other health care facilities are severely lacking in dementia care training. Changing this tragic oversight is a personal goal of mine. It's time to revolutionize the system. For years I've been working on the Dementia Hospital Wristband Program, which I founded. We have adopted the Purple Angel logo to place on the wristbands. This symbol is now alerting hospital staff that any patients wearing these wristbands are at risk with likely cognitive issues. Here in Florida, Bayfront Health Brooksville Hospital (formerly Brooksville Regional) is into its fourth month of a six-month-long pilot program, and I'm happy to say the results have been outstanding.

This international group of Ambassadors already is making a huge difference in educating the general public about dementia, for "together we are strong," which happens to be our motto.

The fight we have in front of us is enormous and is, without a doubt, a global one.

These Purple Angels are using their wings to sail the four winds. I only can imagine what a difference they will make in years to come.

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