Gretchen Schauffler

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Why Purple Is Perfect For The Alzheimer's Association

Why Purple Is Perfect For The Alzheimer's Association

Devine Purple for Brains

You can only imagine my excitement when the Oregon chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association asked me to be a board member. After my Puerto Rican grandmother had a stroke and lost part of her memory, I realized the devastating results of memory loss and vowed to help other’s memories last a lifetime. I then spent the better part of 2015 researching and exploring age care and dementiaI worked with The Alzheimer's Association nationally to secure a cause-marketing relationship with Valspar Paint, on behalf of Devine Color, with a 25,000 donation.  I created Color With benefits a color design protocol that uses the power of color beyond the decorative to reflect a high level of emotional care in all areas of senior living—not only for residents, but also for their caregivers and families. My grandmother left me with a lot yet to do.

 At my first Alzheimer's Association Oregon Chapter board meeting, I sat in the conference room surrounded by the official Alzheimers deep purple shade, and thought how ironic that the color purple was my grandmother's least favorite color. My grandmother, like many Catholics of her generation, associated purple with mourning and death, right up until the day she died.  A combination of culture and experience shapes our color associations later in life and I could imagined my grandmother rolling her eyes saying, "really, purple?" 

When someone explained to me the Alzheimer's logo in the shape of a beaker and a head: the brain (science) behind saving yours, purple suddenly made sense! I thought red for heart, pink for breasts, purple for brains! The color purple is the only color in the rainbow that splits into two shades, which also coincides with chakras or energy points associated with the head: Indigo is associated with intuition and perception. Violet is associated with wisdom and transcendence. 

Purple for brains! Of course. 

For my grandmother intelligence combined with education meant the power to live life with independence, choices, and freedom. Three things she craved the most and never had. She was rendered powerless at age 13 when her father, a college graduate back in 1934, took her of school to cook, babysit, and clean for her stepmother. Yes, straight out of a Spanish soap opera. She then went on to marry and do the same for her own family. Even though she was emotionally injured and financially limited, she was determined that her children would have a different life than hers by going to college. With the help of my mother, her oldest daughter who didn't go to college because at age 16 she went to work as a secretary to help the family financially, her other children, her grandchildren, and my children (her great grandchildren) went on to have college degrees. Today, our lives today are filled with independence, choices, and freedom because of my grandmother's passion and faith in our brains.

I wish I could call her today and tell her that I had a new meaning for her to embrace about purple, one that had to do with preserving the brain, and therefore peoples independence, choices, and freedom. We all leave a legacy, whether we are aware of it or not! My grandmother left hers.

I now like to think to think of myself as an indigo and violet brain, behind the brain, helping those with dementia live a colorful quality of life while we work to find a cure. 

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