Coping with Dementia at Home

Dementia care is a large part of what we do, so naturally accessibility for people with dementia is of primary importance to us.

Changes to layout and helpful signage can go a long way in reducing stress or confusion for people living with dementia. Research has shown that almost 80% of people with dementia listed shopping as their favourite activity. However, 63% of people surveyed didn’t think that shops were doing enough to help people with dementia (Alzheimer’s Society, 2013).

If you take onboard some of the ideas in this post, you can make a big difference for people living with dementia and their carers. It will also help pave the way to a better customer experience and a more comfortable visit for your customers.

If you have a family member or friend who has or is developing Dementia, we hope this guide will help you to understand and, in-turn, help them.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for circa 60-80% of cases. It’s estimated that there are around 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia. By 2025, this figure is estimated to have increased to around 1 million.

Symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, and can be severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. For example, people living with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning or preparing meals, remembering appointments or travelling out of the neighbourhood.

What Makes A Space Dementia Friendly?

In short, there are 2 main areas to consider: People and Environment.

People

Your members of staff can be an invaluable asset for your organisation, and good customer service can be key to helping somebody live well with dementia. Here are a few tips to help your staff deliver a more dementia-friendly service.

  • Allow the person to take their time.
  • Understand how they might be feeling.
  • Be friendly and smiley.
  • Consider their feelings and respond to the emotions they are expressing.
  • Ask direct questions. For example, ‘Is there someone you would like me to call?’ rather than ‘What would you like me to do?’
  • Avoid information that is too long or that contains too much jargon.

You may not always be able to tell if someone is living with dementia, but by being observant and aware of certain signs, your staff can be better equipped to offer a helping hand. Let your staff know it might be worth doing so if they see someone:

  • Standing still at the same place for a long duration of time.
  • Giving their whole wallet when they are paying.
  • Repeatedly buying unusually large quantities of the same product.
  • Having difficulties expressing themselves or saying what they need.
  • Appearing lost or confused.
  • Forgetting to pay for goods or products.
Environment

The second area to consider is the environment. Below are some ideas of potential areas to address.

If you run a business and you would like to make it more friendly to people with dementia, here are some steps you can take towards meeting your goal:

  • Provide information and awareness-raising activities for all staff.
  • Provide appropriate training to enable staff to respond empathically and positively to people living with dementia.
  • Maintain a proactive approach to supporting customers who are affected by dementia.
  • Make the physical environment as dementia-friendly as possible.
  • Support staff who care for someone with dementia in their personal lives.

This is a process and it will take time. It is important to note that these guidelines do not intend to prioritise dementia over other conditions or disabilities. Indeed even some people who have dementia, or any other condition, may not want a fuss or attention drawn to their condition, so a duty of discretion must be taken.