September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Day. The rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia is predicted to triple by the year 2050. It is more crucial than ever to learn how we can all work towards more inclusive and dementia-friendly communities.

It should be everyone’s goal for people living with dementia to feel included and empowered within any type of everyday setting such as grocery stores, shopping malls and community centres.

Here are some guidelines to follow if you notice someone in need of assistance who might be living with a cognitive impairment:

  1. Adapt the physical environment if possible. For example: Asking an employee to lower the volume of background music in a retail store.
  2. Speak clearly and use short, simple sentences.
  3. Maintain a calm and friendly tone of voice. Avoid a condescending and child-like tone.
  4. Ask one question at a time and wait for their answer.
  5. If the person does not understand what you’re saying, re-phrase the statement or question rather than repetition.
  6. Pay attention to your non-verbal communication. Make sure your body language is relaxed and open.
  7. Using visual cues – like pointing in a certain direction – can help make things clearer and easier to understand.
  8. Normalize – Aim for an interaction without stigma by re-assuring the person that the issue they are experiencing is common. For example: “I also have trouble with directions in this building” or “I also have trouble finding the produce section in this store”.
  9. Validate – Acknowledge the feeling behind what the person is saying, even if what they are saying is not accurate or does not make sense. For example: “It must be frustrating that there are no clear signs in this shopping mall”.

The Cummings Centre’s mission is to empower and enhance the quality of life of adults age 50 and over by providing dynamic and innovative programs, social services, and volunteer opportunities in a vibrant, respectful, inclusive and compassionate environment. Building on its Jewish heritage, Cummings embraces people from all ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

As the hub of Montreal’s 50+ community, the Centre touches the lives of 10,000 people on an annual basis. In addition to its main campus at 5700 Westbury Avenue in Montreal, programs are offered at several off-site locations including the West Island, Cote Saint-Luc and online.

For more information, please contact us by phone at 514-343-3510, online at or in person at 5700 Westbury Avenue.