Rock County launches “Purple Tube Project” to assist sufferers of dementia

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Rock County has come up with an innovative way of helping patients suffering from dementia.

The “Purple Tube Project”, launched Monday, provides people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia a purple-colored tube filled with emergency information that they can keep in their home. If a patient goes missing, first responders can quickly learn potentially life-saving information about them.

“Whenever there is an emergency, somebody with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia may have trouble being able to remember who to call, who’s related to them, and where help is available,” said Cori Marsh, a dementia care specialist. “What the purple tube does is put all that information in one place.”

Anyone suffering from dementia is encouraged to participate in the project.

Gene Wright, the Fire Chief of the Town of Beloit, said, “Really, what it’s going to do is give us the advantage that we don’t have right now, especially with someone with dementia. You get there, they may not be able to answer questions. They may not know where they’re at, or who to call to get help.”

The Aging and Disability Resource Center in Janesville is behind the program. They say two incidents acted as catalysts for the project.

“We had a caregiver get ill in the middle of the night and, clearly, his wife couldn’t be left home unattended, and so emergency responders weren’t sure what to do, because they knew that they couldn’t leave her home alone,” said Marsh.

“We had a gentleman that walked away from home and ended up perishing,” Wright adds. “He didn’t survive his ordeal. He ended up over at the Western part of the state, which really kind of made us think about what we can do about for it.”

Right now, 25 people are enrolled in the program. Marsh hopes to get more patients involved. She says almost 4,000 people in Rock County have dementia.

“For us, it’s kind of a win-win when the program came along,” said Wright. “Our people get the assistance they need and we can actually do better treatment for them.”

For more information, or to obtain the free tubes, call the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Rock County at 608-741-3600.

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