Why we need Dementia-Friendly Businesses

Look at the way business is done today. Every customer is looking for personalized service coupled with great value.  As a business owner you might ask, how do I remain competitive in this era of online stores and diverse shopping tastes and expectations.  The convenience of online shopping, the competitive pricing and doorstep deliveries are all the rage, with consumers expecting new and innovative ways to purchasing diapers to computers, vegetables to appliances.

Ponder this, as a business owner, how are you enticing customers to come to your store.  To walk in and browse, to sample goodies, to interact with each other and store employees, to ask questions and get immediate answers.  Yes most of this can be done online, but not with the same efficacy and instant gratification.  Ask yourself, how can a provide a shopping experience that will yield satisfied repeat customers?

Think of those repeat customers who have been coming to your store for years.  You have developed long-standing relationships, know their kids and grandkids – they are a part of your extended family.

So what happens when a elderly family member starts to forget, has some confusion, misses an appointment, gets lost, or maybe cannot shop or patronize your business any longer due to loss of transportation or use of limbs?  What if they had a dementia diagnosis?  They still need milk, prescriptions, a haircut, tires, a nice meal out or a trip to the movies – no different from any of us. What do you do? You find a solution, you look for a way to get them coming back, you look to minimize the hit to your bottom line.

Think of ways your business can become dementia friendly.  Here are just a few:

  • Special Shopping Hours/Offer Assistance with Shopping – a personal shopper maybe?
  • Identify frequently shopped for items, and stock then in places within easy reach of those with wheelchairs, walkers or canes
  • Provide delivery services for free or a nominal cost
  • Staff trained to recognize the small changes in regular customers and how to respond with patience, empathy and understanding
  • Dementia Awareness Training

With a growing number of seniors needing assistance, still living alone, why not be known as the business that has taken the time and effort to be inclusive of all types of shoppers. From customer service, to easy to navigate aisles to supportive employees, you can be that business.

Customers – with money to spend will come – if you build it. (Yes, a Field of Dreams, reference).

Be Aware!

Handsome! (4)
You must first know what dementia is to be aware!

What is Dementia?

Dementia is not a disease. Dementia is a broard term used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when certain diseases affect the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Common types of Dementia are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Fronto-temporal Dementia

Symptoms of Dementia are:

  • Loss of Memory
  • Confusion
  • Problems with speech (aphasia)
  • Problems Processing information

Additionally some of the following are commonly associated with dementia:

  • Delirium or acute confusion
  • Depression
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in doing things (that they enjoyed previously)
  • Memory problems

For more information on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, check out

Dementia Awareness around the World

In the Unites States, the month of November is set aside as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In the UK, Dementia Awareness week will be May 15th – 21st 2019. September 2018 is World Alzheimer’s Awareness month. (Blog readers, if your country is not listed and you want to add information, please add in comments or send me an email).

Be dementia friendly…..why?

A few years ago, over coffee, a policeman friend of mine was recounting the day he was called to a local fast food restaurant to help a confused senior who had ordered a meal but was now unable to pay – did not have his wallet. In fact he had forgotten his wallet and though he drove to the restaurant, he was not sure where he was. The server misunderstood the signs of dementia and insisted he pay or leave the food. The manager was called and situation spiraled of our control to the point where the police were called. The police quickly realized that John…we will call him that…..was miles away from his home and was not looking well. The paramedics were called and he was whisked away to the local hospital. His family was located and they shared that he was recently diagnosed with dementia and had taken the car without them knowing. John was admitted to the hospital for observation and then placed in a memory care temporarily until the family could find long-term accommodations for him. My friend remarked on how helpless he felt in the situation – one that was a far cry away from his regular duties.
The takeaway here: the signs where there…..John was confused and possibly had dementia. None of those he encountered recognized the signs. Had they, the situation may have been handled differently — did not have to escalate to the point where John was carted off the hospital. Had the server, manager, police been trained to recognize the signs, there might have been a smoother conclusion. In any case, John got the care he needed. Were the paramedics and ER personnel equally ill-prepared? Who knows?

Photo courtesy of RKPS!

To be friendly – dementia friendly – is to be aware of the needs of people living with AD and other forms of dementia. We need community-based best practices, education, awareness, support and ways to reduce stigma. Give a senior a hand today!