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Coping with Dementia: The Business Case for Dementia-friendly Communities

By Debbie Selsalvage Posted on May 10, 2022

I conduct training for Dementia Friendly businesses, churches, and communities for humanitarian reasons.  Our company’s slogan is “We all deserve the best,” which I believe especially applies to families, care partners, and their loved ones living with dementia.  Finding ways to help those in our community with dementia remain active, social, and engaged, with their dignity intact, is simply the right thing to do.

But there is an additional reason to nurture a Dementia Friendly community, and this is the business case.  Very simply, being supportive of customers and clients living with dementia – and their care partners — makes good sense and ultimately benefits you, the business person, as well as the community as a whole.

Our population most likely to contract Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is typically 65 and older, and those who care for them are often 50-plus, so let’s look at how this age group benefits the economy. 

  • They are the most affluent of any age segment and own three-quarters of the nation’s financial wealth.
  • They account for 60% of all healthcare spending including 74% of prescription drug purchases.
  • They acquire 41% of all new cars and account for 80% of luxury travel.  They even buy more than half of the toys sold!
  • They are the fastest growing segment on the Internet, spending more time online than teenagers.
  • They have an income per capita that is 26% higher than the national average and they own 70% of all money market accounts and certificates of deposit.
  • They spend more per capita on groceries, O-T-C products, travel, and leisure than any other age group.

The Business Case for Dementia-friendly Communities

Demographically, Florida is one of America’s three oldest states with a 65-plus population of 17%.  Citrus is one of Florida’s three oldest counties with a 65-plus population of 34%!  This means that seniors have a disproportionate impact on our local economy.

The business case for a Dementia Friendly Community is very simply the fact that seniors don’t stop spending when they contract dementia, though many of the decisions to buy will be made by their care partners.  Business owners who dismiss “dementia families” as an insignificant or inactive market segment will eventually be disadvantaged by that attitude.  Business owners who see families living with dementia as still viable customers will benefit, and the really savvy ones will educate themselves and their staff about dementia and learn specific methods of communication and customer service.

Dementia is extraordinarily difficult for whole families, and the last thing they need is to be treated “less than” by businesses that don’t understand what they are going through.  They will walk away from a dismissive attitude and gravitate toward businesses that treat them like they are important and welcome.  From the business person’s point of view, becoming Dementia Friendly is not a burdensome task.  It is simply a slightly higher or special level of customer service that takes a couple of hours of training and will be well worth the investment.  

I think Dementia Friendly business is a good idea because We – and our customers – all deserve the best! 

About Debbie Selsavage

Debbie Selsavage is a Certified Trainer and Consultant in the Positive Approach to Care and a Certified Dementia Practitioner.  She authors a monthly column to assist caregivers in coping with Dementia. Her company, Coping with Dementia LLC is dedicated to making life better for individuals living with dementia.  Contact Debbie at [email protected].

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