One of the latest trends in public space environment design is dementia-friendliness. While a relatively new concept, it is clear that creating our public spaces with our senior population in mind is going to increase in importance over the coming years as that population increases. Studies and interviews on dementia patients show that those living with dementia still want to do the shopping, go to the theatre, enjoy parks, museums, and all the other leisure activities they have always enjoyed. So what needs to be considered in a dementia-friendly environment?
- Signage: Clear and frequent signage is a great aid, and helps dementia sufferers maintain independence – locating a sign with directions is far less unsettling than having to ask a stranger for help.
- Senior-friendly facilities: Handicap facilities and plenty of places to sit and take a rest are at the most basic end of the scale for making a space senior-friendly.
- Trained staff: Offering dementia-friendliness training to staff is one of the best things a venue can do to ensure dementia patients are comfortable and safe in their environment.
- Access to support: Fast access to first aid or medical attention is the vital support system that trained staff need in their venue. In public spaces such as parks, this may mean access to emergency telephone services, or signage to other residents to be mindful of their elderly neighbours.