Dementia-Friendly Shopping

Written by Active Minds on Friday the 3rd of February 2017.



For people living with dementia, shopping is an important part of daily life as it encourages gentle activity and independence for as long as possible. However, according to research carried out by the Alzheimer’s Society, one in four people living with dementia have avoided going shopping since being diagnosed with the disease. When questioned about their apprehension they stated a number of reasons, from worrying that they will have difficulty finding their way around the store, to struggling to count out their money at the checkout.

It was in response to this research that the Alzheimer’s Society launched ‘Becoming A Dementia Friendly Retailer: A Practical Guide’ last year. Determined to encourage retail spaces to support people living with dementia, the guide is aimed at all shops, from small newsagents to huge retail parks. It offers information on how dementia affects a person’s shopping experience, as well as giving practical tips on how to support customers with dementia.

The guide sets out four commitments that retailers can make for customers with dementia and their carers:

  • Improve staff awareness and understanding of dementia
  • Review the physical environment of the store/premises
  • Support staff who develop dementia or care for a person with dementia
  • Support the local community

Sainsbury’s and East of England Cooperative have already started to make changes within their stores to become dementia-friendly retailers.


Sainsbury’s have trained all their staff in the best ways to support people living with dementia, as well as introducing a Carers Policy for their employees. They are also trialling several different dementia-friendly schemes within their stores. For example, in their store in Gosforth, once a week they run a ‘Slow Shopping’ session, in which the store provides more chairs and help points for customers who may want to take a longer time shopping. Similarly, another store in Cambridge organises a dementia café in their restaurant once a month, encouraging people living with dementia to meet and socialise.

East of England Cooperative

Every member of staff within the East of England Cooperative has been invited to enrol in a training session run by Dementia Friends. So far over 77% of employees have successfully completed the training and are registered Dementia Friends. They also ran a ‘Shopping In Their Shoes’ training programme, where members of staff wore ageing suits that simulate physical and psychological challenges a person with dementia may experience, whilst they carried out a basic shopping task. The company is also in the process of creating their first dementia-friendly flagship store, which will include adaptions on the shop floor to help guide customers living with dementia, as well as introducing an assisted shopping scheme.

Take a look at Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Becoming A Dementia Friendly Retailer: A Practical Guide’ in full here.