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