Dealing with dementia

Dealing with dementia

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends


Ashley King, Co-Founder, Person Centred Universe

What do you envision when you think about someone living with dementia? Someone who is 80-plus years old, living in long-term care?

In reality, those who have been diagnosed with dementia are going to the bank, accessing public transport and going to the grocery store to pick up their groceries. Some are even under the age of 65. Therefore, creating environments that are inclusive and supportive of those living with dementia and their caregivers is the key to creating a foundation to help those with the disease live more inclusively within their communities.

Creating a business or organization that is dementia friendly creates an environment that can support us all, as the foundation of being an inclusive organization embodies the principles of providing compassion and respect for each customer and their unique perspective. How would we like to be treated if we were the customer or the client?

Think about many of our retail environments, we all can easily recall the hustle and bustle of retail. A noisy cash, snaking through aisles and displays to find what you’re looking for and marketing that directs your attention by using brightly coloured packaging and strategic placement to catch your eye and your wallet. It’s a place we’re all familiar with, but imagine you’re visiting the store to make a purchase and as you’re at the cash, you realize you can’t find your credit card; it’s not where you left it.
The customers behind you are impatient, giving you distasteful looks and scoffing as you dig frantically through your pockets. The employee of the store is also not understanding of your situation, they are impatiently waiting for you to pay so they can handle the queue of people behind you and they don’t offer you any help.

If you’re in the retail business, taking a moment to ask someone who looks lost or confused if you could lend a hand could mean the world to that person.
If a customer looks distraught, offer compassion and guidance so they don’t feel like they’re alone. If you see someone struggling to keep up with the pace of your busy and bustling business, offer reassurance that everything is fine and to take as long as they need.

Looking beyond retail, corporate and non-profit environments can improve their inclusiveness as well. Using contrasting colours for walls, floors and furniture, can help create environments that direct attention and training staff to be caring and compassionate can help achieve a positive experience for all.

Creating offices and retail organizations that are inclusive for those living with dementia doesn’t take rocket science — it takes some understanding of staff, recognition of environmental stressors and a little bit of compassion to create a client-centred experience for those who are affected by dementia. In fact, those living with dementia and their care partners can teach us a significant life lesson that many of us can stand to learn and appreciate: Take a little extra time and a little extra care.

Join Ashley for a Power Lunch on February 12 at the Halifax Chamber office to learn more.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends

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