Jane was waiting for her son, who had promised her to driver her to the library. Since Jane had received a diagnosis of dementia, she depends on her kids to go to the library. Before, Jane would take the subway train but now she no longer feels confident to take the train. Now she finds train schedules frustrating. She has to wait until one of her adult children takes her to the library.     

This is common situation for a person living with dementia who no longer drives. A person with dementia experiences challenges in accessing various locations and depends on family or friends for rides. The ability to access means being able to go to places independently or with some help from caregivers. Access includes physical transportation, navigation, and human connection in the process.       


In a survey conducted on caregivers, two-thirds of the caregivers reported that they have offered rides or transport-related help to their loved one. Since some people with dementia are not able to drive, they depend on friends and family to take them to places. If the primary caregiver is also experiencing ill-health (for example, a spouse sick with the flu’), then facilitating access to various places becomes harder.


Much like everyone else, a person with dementia needs to keep their medical appointments, run errands, and attend social meetings. Due to the hardships experienced during transportation such as untrained public transit staff, persons with dementia and caregivers tend to stay home. This generates feelings of isolation, agitation or depression, and results in an overall poor quality of life.     


As policy makers and residents, we need to ensure that people with dementia have access to appropriate transportation to the local facilities that they are used to and where they are known (e.g., banks, shops, cafes, cinemas and post office). If public transit is available then it needs to have trained staff that is dementia friendly. For instance, staff assists people with dementia in paying fares, and ensures that they are safe during the commute by fastening seat-belts etc.  


During transit persons with dementia might need assistance in several ways. For example, forgetting ride time or appointment destination, forgetting belongings on vehicle, or inability to communicate with the driver. A dementia friendly community informs drivers (public transit, or ridesharing with friends) about challenges faced by persons with dementia and more importantly, it educates drivers on how to address these situations.


People with dementia experience difficulties in unfamiliar settings. The signs on public places need to be clear so that people with dementia find their way around even in new places. Often times, a caregiver may call ahead of time to make sure the access to the place is possible (parking, ramps etc.). Businesses and offices need to have efficient staff that can provide information in clear words.   


The lack of access is one of the reasons why a person with dementia stays confined to their homes. This isolation leads to depression and other mental health concerns. AlzCare Labs is committed to help persons with dementia and their families to access their favorite locations safely.


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