Characteristics of dementia-friendly communities

We work to reduce physical and social barriers in communities. Learn more about the social and physical characteristics of a dementia-friendly community.


To learn more about what you and your community can do, email us at


The ultimate vision of the Society’s Dementia-Friendly Communities (DFC) initiative is to address barriers in the social and physical environment in order to reduce the difficulties people living with dementia may experience when navigating public and private spaces. These attributes complement age-friendly initiatives by adding nuance and emphasizing the experience of people affected by dementia.

When successful, the social and physical environment can help support people living with dementia by reducing anxiety, stigma and frustration.

Social characteristics

Many people living with dementia live at home for a long time and with some support from their community, they are often able to maintain a good quality of life. This is possible when community members are educated about dementia and know that a person living with dementia may sometimes experience the world differently.

Dementia education

Community members who are dementia friendly:

  • Know a person living with dementia is more than their diagnosis.
  • Understand dementia can affect a person’s cognition, behaviour, emotions and physical capabilities.
  • Recognize the signs of dementia and know how to communicate effectively and respectfully.

Job-specific strategies

Dementia education is a part of the job training for employees in all sectors.

Example: The grocery store cashier is able to recognize when a person living with dementia needs help counting out money.

Supportive businesses

Dementia-friendly business practices are implemented and employees are encouraged to take the time to meet any patron’s needs, whether it is a person living with dementia or someone who is struggling with another difficulty.

Government action

Dementia education is offered to city staff – parking officers, police, transit operators – in order to be able to communicate effectively with a person living with dementia.

Inclusive programs

Community programming allows people living with dementia to participate to the fullest extent possible in their regular programming and in specifically designed activities.


Physical characteristics

A person living with dementia’s interactions with the built environment provide some sense of independence and dignity at a time when they are experiencing new challenges. A physical environment that is welcoming to people living with dementia practices:


Communities allow for equality of access and opportunity regardless of ability or age.

Example: There are landmarks, distinctive structures, open spaces and places of activity or rest.


People living with dementia are able to reach, use and walk around the places they visit.

Example: Clearly marked accessible washrooms in public spaces.


When people living with dementia perceive the outdoors to be safe, they can enjoy being out in the community.


Distinct features help people living with dementia understand where they are and identify which way they should go.

Example: Clear and legible signage placed at eye level.


People living with dementia may use familiar landmarks and other visual cues they regularly encounter as wayfinding techniques.


There are calm, welcoming, informal and pedestrian-friendly spaces.

Example: Flat, wide and unobstructed sidewalks.

If you have any questions, inquiries, or would like more details on how you can be dementia-friendly, contact us at or 604-742-4910.