Purple Cities Alliance is the result of work that was begun in Torbay England by a man named Norm MacNamera. Norm's life was as ordinary as anyone else's. He worked, spent time with his family, enjoyed his life until the day he heard the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease (a few years later the diagnosis would be revised to Lewey Body). As one might imagine, in that moment the world stood still. How could this be happening to him? He realized he had some cognition issues but Alzheimers? He was only 50 years old and that is a disease for old people not someone who was only 50 years old. It was true, he had dementia and he and his family would have to deal with that.
Daily life became more challenging. Things that were simple and routine became strange and frightening at times, with no warning at all he would be lost in his home town, confused about what was expected of him and afraid of the people around him. He had dementia. He realized that nobody in his home town understood what he was dealing with. And so he began, just Norm and his wife Elaine, going from retailer to retailer, visiting restaurants, libraries, anywhere people would gather. He told the owners, managers and staff what he was going through, how they could help people like him simply by knowing a little bit about dementia. People in Torbay listened. The Torbay Dementia Action Alliance was formed. Within a few years Norm was spreading the word all over Britain. He met with the Prime Minister and members of Parliament and they listened too. The UK began working on dementia awareness and leading the rest of the world toward understanding people with dementia.
The movement spread across Europe and to Australia, Asia, India, Canada and the USA.
If one man with dementia could make such an impact on the world, how much more can we do when we all join with him and follow his lead.
Purple Cities Alliance has begun with Knoxville/Knox County TN. We hope other cities and communities across the country will join us and begin working on creating places where people with dementia can live happily and safely, surrounded by compassionate, understanding neighbors prepared to help when confusion becomes a problem.
Purple Cities Alliance was formed to help educate people about how to respond to someone with dementia. We are totally volunteer based and we do not accept donations. We are a group of people who just want to help change the way people with dementia are viewed and responded to.
One example that Norm shared with us recently will illustrate how this little bit of knowledge can change everything. There was a woman at the grocery store doing her shopping, everything was okay until she got to the check out. She became very upset, was unable to complete her purchase, suddenly lost and afraid, she didn't know where she lived. A young employee had recently completed his short training session and immediately recognized what was happening. He intervened, gently inviting the woman to come sit with him on a bench for a few minutes. His calm approach soothed her and once they were seated and away from everyone else he was able to find out who he could call to come for her. This incident could have had a far different outcome, if the woman panicked and left the store alone, she might have been lost or hurt. Instead her family came to pick her up and she went home safely. This situation and others like it are happening every day all over the world. More and more people are dealing with dementia and many of them are unaware of it.
Purple Cities goal is to give a lot of people just a little knowledge about dementia and how to help. For those who want more information we have a resource page on our website. Our one page handout or our powerpoint presentation (both available for download on our website) will give people some do's and don'ts for dealing with someone who has dementia.
If you are a member of an organization or business that would like to join Purple Cities please fill out the form on our website. Training can be done online or volunteers can come to your meetings and do the training there. We are also available to train members of your organization to do the training for the rest of your group.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or submit the contact us form on our website.
Please help us make the world a safer place for people with dementia.