Healthy Carolinians Dementia Task Force Conducts Dementia Friendly Training for Area Restaurants

 Healthy Carolinians Dementia Task Force Conducts Dementia Friendly Training for Area Restaurants

Anne Kelleher, Dementia Task Force trainer,manager of gives Purple Seas Horse sticker, symbol of Dementia Friendly, to Mike Kelly, owner  of Kelly’s Restaurant.



The Black Pelican, Kelly’s Restaurant, Kill Devil Grill, Mako Mike and Pamlico Jack’s are the first area restaurants to be designated Dementia Friendly on the Outer Banks, thanks to wait staff training by Dementia Task Force volunteers recently.

“The 30-minute training focuses on making the dining out experience more comfortable for a caregiver and loved one with dementia,” said Diane Denny, chair of the Dementia Task Force which is a partner of the Healthy Carolinians of the Outer Banks.  “One of the goals of the Task Force is to help create a Dementia Friendly Community.

Dementia is an ‘umbrella’ term that describes the changes in the brain that affect a person’s memory, thinking and behavior. There are several different types of dementia, one of which is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s affects more than 5 million people in the US alone, and is expected to double in the next 7 – 13 years.

Since the Outer Banks is a vacation destination with many families going out to eat, the Task Force decided to first focus training on local restaurants as part of creating Dementia Friendly businesses.

The training, geared to wait staff, hosts and managers, reviews some common behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s/ dementia, and some simple tips for interacting with caregivers and their loved ones, to make their restaurant visit easier in the rush-rush of taking and filling orders. Role playing situations also trigger thoughtful questions from restaurant staff, generating further discussion with the volunteers.

The most important training tip offered is to treat the person coping with dementia in a calm way, with kindness and respect. The individual may not remember what he ate, but will take away a feeling of being treated compassionately. The caregiver, usually a family member, will remember a positive experience and hopefully become a repeat customer.

Summer Copeland, general manager of Black Pelican Restaurant, displays the new
 Dementia Friendly symbol 

At the end of the training, each restaurant manager received the Purple Sea Horse sticker, denoting their staffs’ involvement in the training, and their restaurants designation as Dementia Friendly.

Restaurant training is just one of the initiatives undertaken by the local Dementia Task Force. Earlier this spring, the Outer Banks Hospital celebrated its designation as the first Dementia Friendly Hospital in North Carolina, after completing a training program for all its staff and volunteers.

Other restaurants interested in training for their staff, please contact Dianne Denny, Dementia Task Force Chair, at 252-449-4455.

The Dementia Task Force is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing helping hands for caregivers who are going through struggles while caring for loved ones with Dementia/ Alzheimer’s.  Its goals include: educational outreach programs to the public, like the annual Caregiver Conference and smaller group training; support to caregivers through a mentoring program, and an ongoing monthly Caregiver Support Group; connection to services and resources meant to help the caregiver; and funds to assist with respite care..

The Purple Sea Horse emblem is the local insignia for a Dementia Friendly business. Sea Horse is a translation from the Latin word, hippocampus.  The hippocampus is that area of the brain that seems to play a major role in memory.  Its shape is similar to a Sea Horse, and purple is the color used by the Alzheimer’s Association.