It's dementia awareness week (DAW2017) , a time to reflect on all that has been achieved and all the work that remains to be done in raising public awareness about the daily challenges that people with dementia face in getting around their city. Dementia doesn’t just affect memory, it can affect any function that our brain controls and one of the most challenging changes is when someone has problems with perception. This can cause problems judging distances – knowing where steps and pavements start and finish, silver stairs and escalators appearing like a steep slope – that makes life in shops and buildings pretty difficult.
Sometimes people struggle with changes in flooring, colour changes look like steps, checked floors and swirly patterns on carpets look like the floor is moving. Shiny floors look wet and slippery and if you think something is slippery you don’t want to walk on it. Thresholds at doors represent a change in flooring and another obstacle to be overcome - can you imagine trying to negotiate your way around the many different buildings in our city if you experienced these challenges?
And what about glass! Well using glass is part of design, sleek and chic but to someone with problems with perception it looks like its not there. So doors and walls made of glass are likely to be walked into, glass walls are likely to be fallen over and mirrors can cause problems making sense of the world.
We know these things are difficult for people with dementia. Yet our world is full of these features, they make our buildings beautiful but inaccessible for some. What can you spot in your environment that may help or hinder people with dementia get around?
This year Liverpool is hosting DOING DEMENTIA DESIGN, a conference for architects, planners, builders, surveyors, decorators to try and embed dementia friendly design principles into our places and spaces. Register now before tickets sell out!
by Jill Pendleton, Dementia Lead
Mersey Care NHS Trust