By Daniel J. Vance MS, LPCC

Not long ago, this column featured the nation's first regional disability chamber of commerce (in Orlando, Florida), which helps people with disabilities become self-employed entrepreneurs. This week, you'll learn about Kathy Broggy, an advisory board member of the Purple Cities Alliance of Knoxville, Tennessee, which is making Knoxville one of the nation's first “dementia friendly” cities.

The work there will serve as a model for other larger cities.

In a telephone interview, Broggy, a life enrichment director at a Knoxville senior living center, said, “The goal of Purple Cities Alliance is to provide dementia education and training resources, and educate people in our community to recognize the needs of people struggling with dementia. We kicked off our (Knoxville) campaign on May 11 and our website address is purplecities.org.”

Purple is the color used around the globe to denote dementia. The symbol for Purple Cities Alliance is a purple angel.

The organization began in England a decade ago when a man with early onset dementia ran into problems when people had trouble understanding his dementia difficulties. It became his mission to make his hometown more aware. The purple cities movement was then carried over the pond to the U.S.

Broggy said, “We have been reaching out to city and county governments to get them on board in terms of educating their employees about dementia. We're working with police and fire departments, and other first responders, to get them educated. We're asking businesses to commit to training their employees. It's a short training on how to look for dementia (in customers, for example) and how to help them.”

Upon admission to a Knoxville hospital, people with dementia will wear a purple wristband, which will “indicate to the staff that the person could be confused and the information you are getting may not be accurate,” said Broggy.

She added, “The U.S. has more and more people who have dementia, whether diagnosed or not, who are trying to survive in a world where everyday things have become difficult to manage. They may not even be aware they are having these issues.”

Broggy said Knoxville's all-volunteer board doesn't take in any money nor send any out. After completing a short training course, an organization or business can receive a purple angel window decal, which lets people with dementia and their family members know a particular business has become “dementia friendly.”

Facebook: Disabilities by Daniel J. Vance. [Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod and Palmer Bus Service.]