" City life for older people is challenged by a society that has no time to stop and worry about someone not knowing who or where they are. "
Community engagement key for dementia-friendly communities

Paul, from NSW, believes community engagement is vital to build dementia-friendly communities. #ItStartsWithYou

“Community engagement is essential for a person with dementia to sustain their sense of social inclusion and meaningful activity. City life for older people is challenged by a society that has no time to stop and worry about someone not knowing who or where they are.

The theme for this year’s dementia awareness month, Creating a dementia-friendly nation, brought to mind my experiences when caring for my wife in crowded community situations.

The demise of the family friendly corner store means people with dementia must negotiate huge shopping malls, impersonal self-service check-outs, disabled toilets in the wrong places, unmanned information desks, poor signage for where to find help, and maze challenging car parks.

Disorientation is common in these places, even if the person is with their carer. It can cause the person to wander off aimlessly, become panicked with risk of injury from a fall, most likely on an escalator. A number of these problems can be avoided if mall operators, retail and agency outlets adopt a common approach for assistance to carers and people with dementia.

Awareness of the rights people with dementia
  1. Awareness that people with dementia have a right to be in the community.
  2. Mall operators and outlets have a culture of willingness to help people with dementia.
Responsibilities and procedures
  1. Mall operators accept responsibility to assist people with dementia in an emergency.
  2. Clear public signage to a permanently staffed emergency or information desk.
  3. The emergency desk person has procedures and training to assist a lost person with dementia, or when a carer cannot find their loved one.
  4. Procedures to coordinate with local police and ambulance services.
Mall retail and agency outlets
  1. A key person in each outlet is trained to alert the mall emergency desk of a lost person with dementia, or be able to direct a carer to the emergency desk.
  2. Ensure all operator assisted check-out lanes are adequately staffed.
Improve general amenities
  1. Ensure disabled toilets are unisex and not inside male and female toilets
  2. Provide quiet area seating away from food halls
  3. Display clear “You are here” maps at major car park exit doors

Mall operators may find they will improve overall customer relations by taking a responsible approach to becoming a dementia-friendly nation. After all, some of today’s younger generation, whose custom they depend on, will become a future dementia statistic.”

 Posted: September 22nd, 2015
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Call the National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500