SHERIDAN — Dementia Friendly Wyoming held its kickoff event Wednesday evening for Sheridan businesses to sign up for dementia friendly training as part of the group’s first phase in making Sheridan a dementia-friendly city.
Last fall, Sheridan was one of 11 national recipients to earn a federal grant to be used to help make Sheridan, and then Wyoming, a dementia-friendly atmosphere.
“One of the outcomes of this is we’re going to be a catalyst for dementia-friendly training for all the state of Wyoming,” said Richard Garber, a member of the Dementia Friendly Wyoming team as well as the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.
So far, 12 people have become “champions,” or trained in dementia-friendly practices and will soon be ready to train others. The kickoff event was held with the hope of signing downtown businesses up for training. A handful of new businesses attended, so outreach by the team will continue to ensure training occurs within as many businesses as possible in the downtown area and all of Sheridan.
Dr. Sy Thickman relayed factors that contribute to dementia beyond the top two of aging and genetics, including drugs, alcohol and lack of a healthy lifestyle or brain exercise.
“The problem is that this is so vital because without the care, without the understanding, without the sense of an individual not feeling alone and rejected is so vital for their continued sense of happiness, even though there’s a possible limit to their being able to enjoy wellness,” Thickman said to the group. “Being welcome is a very important aspect of feeling good.”
Director of Dementia Friendly Wyoming Kay Wallick said the word kind is the key to relating to those with dementia, giving both positive and negative examples of interactions with customers or friends with dementia.
The $1.1 million in funding for the project stretches for three years. The group wants to start by training businesses in Sheridan in dementia-friendly practices. If a certain percentage of employees in a business becomes dementia trained, that business will receive an emblem signifying that it is a dementia-friendly location. After tackling the business side of Sheridan, the group wants to continue into the faith communities, health care industry and all other parts of the community.
Dementia Friendly Wyoming trained volunteers will provide outreach to businesses in regards to training. In addition, the Chamber will hold trainings on June 7 and 8.
For more information on how to become a dementia friend, or have your business or entity become dementia friendly, contact Garber at the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce or Wallick at email@example.com.