People living with dementia are being “let down” by the high street, according to a report that found that one in four stopped shopping after their diagnosis despite previously enjoying it.
Many said they had difficulty finding what they needed and paying for items or felt “misunderstood or disrespected” by staff and other patrons and were anxious to navigate new or “overly stimulating” environments.
One caregiver recounted how her mother had tapped her card at a self-service checkout, but the payment had not gone through, triggering an alarm.
She said: “Mum was in a horrible state at the thought of shoplifting…it was traumatic.”
Others said that public transportation was not always accessible, while caregivers reported that they were unable to obtain Blue Badges to park.
Three in five people with dementia said they didn’t think stores were doing enough to support them.
The UK’s International Longevity Center (ILC), conducted 44 interviews for the research, estimates that if shops, banks and leisure activities were more welcoming to people living with dementia, the economy could be boosted by £948 million. of pounds sterling a year through spending.
About two-thirds of people with dementia still live in the
community. Experts say that getting out and moving can give them a sense of purpose and reduce the risk of social isolation.
The report makes a number of recommendations including more training for retail staff to understand how to help people with dementia.
Online stores and services should also develop ways for people to take their time to buy things, while digital lanyards for hidden disabilities could easily identify and help people with dementia and cognitive impairments to shop safely.
It also calls on transport providers to improve “real-time” information to help people with dementia navigate towns and cities.
Lynsey Neilson, of Glasgow’s Golden Generation elderly care charity, said
Too many stores operated a high and low stacking model “like an obstacle course that is an accessibility nightmare.”
She said: “As a charity, shopping trips are one of the most requested activities by users of our service, but it can be difficult to find places that are accessible to everyone.
“In recent years, we have seen a move to be more inclusive across the board with autism-friendly hours, changing bathrooms, and the availability of quiet rooms in shopping malls.
“These are all helpful, but clearly we also need to see retailers that enable people with dementia to be more independent; This could mean clearer spaces with thoughtful product placement, lower music, and most importantly, staff training. “
Tesco announced earlier this year that a quiet hour operating from 9-10am every Wednesday and Saturday will be permanent in all UK stores. The lights are dimmed and the box noises are reduced.
A spokeswoman for the Silverburn shopping center in Glasgow said it provides dementia training for staff and offers a quiet room.
Alzheimer Scotland has a strategic partnership with Braehead Shopping Centre, which was the first center in Scotland to become ‘dementia friendly’.
Marri Welsh, the charity’s executive communications and campaigns leader, said: “Shopping malls can be difficult places to visit for people living with dementia, from modern toilet taps that are turned on with the wave of a hand to the Posting signs at a level too high to read.
“We have worked with the Braehead shopping center to introduce some practical changes to some of these challenges, which has led to the creation of a traditional sink faucet in each toilet, quiet rooms for people to access at all levels, the placement Additional signaling at eye level. , and entrance/exit mats in primary colors matching the car parks to facilitate orientation”