STIRLING could become Scotland’s first ‘dementia-friendly’ city, as plans are being made to support sufferers of the illness.
These include introducing ‘slow lanes’ in supermarkets, where shopping can be packed and unpacked slowly, and training shop workers to help dementia sufferers.
Researchers are looking at how everyday services in the city can be made easier for people with dementia.
The plans are being drawn up by Professor June Andrews of the Dememntia Services Development Centre at Stirling University.
Her research comes as spending on dementia drugs in the NHS in Scotland has doubled in the last five years and cases of the illness are set to soar.
She said: “If you make a dementia-friendly community, it reduces the extent to which people with dementia suffer from confusion or have difficulty in handling their environment.
“As well as giving them a happier life, you are also making things easier for their families.”
She continued: “You could also do a little bit of training so shops and businesses could be more dementia aware.
“When you are in the supermarket, you could have a slow lane where it doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to get your stuff out of the basket.
“We would like Stirling to be the best place in Britain to have dementia.
“We wish people didn’t have it and we are really glad there are people working hard to find a cure to stop it ever happening.
“But until they get success what we have to do is make sure we look after the people who are affected.”
She said other ideas to make communities ‘dementia friendly’ included making sure sufferer’s had brightly lit homes.
This could be done by changing light bulbs during maintenance. Bright light can improve the mood and sleep patterns of dementia sufferers.
Scotland’s population of elderly people is expected to rise by more than half a million over the next two decades.
Around 84,000 Scots have dementia, though the figure is expected to double over the next 25 years.
Last year half of all long-stay care home residents had dementia, up more than 20% from 2003.
Dementia is a brain illness which mostly affects older people and is largely caused by Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms can include memory loss and a lack of concentration.
The Scottish Government last week announced its first 100 ‘dementia champions’ had started work, aiming to improve standards of care for people with the illness.
Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “We have got to get behind the agenda of helping people in their own home and their own community.”