Time to make the high street dementia friendly

30 September 2021
  • New programme seeks to make the high street dementia-friendly

A new, year-long programme of work, launched today will seek to identify solutions to the problems people with dementia face when spending on the high street and beyond.

While people with dementia report shopping as one of their favourite activities, the design of the high street sometimes makes it difficult.

From remembering a PIN number to accidentally shoplifting and from being exposed to scams to navigating around a town centre, research evidence suggest that our high street isn’t dementia friendly enough. COVID-19 may have increased the challenges faced by people with dementia, with for example, more retailers not accepting cash and reports that online and offline scams may have increased.

The new programme of work (Spending with Dementia), led by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC) and supported by the Standard Life Foundation. will involve talking to people with dementia and their carers about the problems they face when shopping. ILC will present the problems to retailers, high street managers and other companies and then work with designers, start-ups and policy experts to identify solutions to the problems raised.

On launching the programme, ILC have urged people with dementia, their carers, the voluntary sector and professionals working in retail and banking to get in touch with them with examples of big problems which need solving. ILC also want to hear from people who might want to work with them on solutions.

Sophia Dimitriadis, Research Fellow at ILC, said:

“There is an increasing number of people living with dementia who want to spend and enjoy shopping. But too many are being prevented from doing so easily and safely.”

“The failure to adapt our high streets, our financial services and online shopping environments to growing numbers of people with dementia must be addressed.”

“This isn’t just an academic exercise. In the US recently a woman with dementia who accidentally shoplifted was arrested and left with trauma and a broken arm.”

“Enabling people with dementia to spend as they wish will not only benefit their health and wellbeing, but also allow businesses to tap into a large, and growing levels of high street spending.”

Rebecca Graham, Standard Life Foundation, said:

As well as being a normal and necessary part of life for most people, spending can also be a source of enjoyment, but spending comes with risks that are amplified for people with dementia. The more we understand about this, the better equipped we are to make spending a safer and happier experience.”