WAUSAU — Volunteers who deliver daily hot meals through Wausau Area Mobile Meals have recently been trained in best practices and skills to support positive interactions when serving customers with memory loss, according to a news release.

Wausau Area Mobile Meals now has a “purple angel” decal in the organization’s office window, which signifies that more than half of their volunteers have received the training, which aims to raise awareness about dementia while reducing the stigma that has been associated with memory loss.

“Efforts by organizations such as Wausau Area Mobile Meals help make our communities more supportive of those living with memory loss and encourage continued connection and care,” said Meagan Fandrey, caregiver support coordinator, in a news release issued this week.

Training is offered in our community by the Central Wisconsin Dementia Network, a collaboration of the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin, the Alzheimer’s Association, and other community partners and volunteers.

The free training explores the difference between healthy aging and the changes that may occur as someone develops Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.  Participants will also learn the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s disease as well as helpful tips to provide good customer service and create positive interactions when communicating with someone who may have memory loss or dementia.  The training supports creating environments that will encourage those experiencing memory loss, and their caregivers, to maintain their social networks and community involvement.

The Dementia Friendly Training for businesses and organizations is free of charge and can be tailored to fit the needs of the group being trained.  It is available in 30 minute or 60 minute sessions.  When a business or organization completes the training, they will receive a window decal and certificate that they can display, signifying that they have participated in the training.  The businesses and organizations that participate will also be listed in a local directory of “dementia friendly” agencies and will receive ongoing education and support to keep leadership and staff updated on dementia friendly practices.

Creating an environment where those living with dementia and their caregivers are met with support, encouragement, connection, and resources requires efforts throughout the community in a shared vision of Wausau becoming a community that embraces and includes those with memory loss, Fandrey wrote.

To schedule a training for your business or organization, contact the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin at 715-261-6070 or 888-486-9545.

Contributed photo