Accessible tourism and dementia

January 29, 2013

New Bournemouth University institute discovers new ways of making tourist attractions dementia-friendly.

Fear of getting lost, fear of not finding the toilets or being misunderstood; there are many reasons why people with dementia and the families who care for them stop going on holiday.

For people with dementia, even simple days out can pose a host of hazards. Often, families say, it's easier to just stay at home. But BU's newly launched Dementia Institute hopes to change that.

"We have a vision," says Professor Anthea Innes of the BU Dementia Institute (BUDI), "that perhaps in the future, Bournemouth might become a dementia-friendly tourist resort." An expert in health and social care research, Professor Innes is collaborating with Professor Stephen Page of BU's School of Tourism to launch pioneering research into dementia-friendly tourism – developing venues where people with dementia will feel safe and at ease to enjoy themselves.

Encouraged by a government pledge to create 20 dementia-friendly cities, towns and villages by 2015, Professor Innes is working closely with those who need these facilities most.

"Our aim is to see how tourism can respond to the needs of people with dementia and their carers and find out if and why they haven't been able to access tourist attractions and leisure facilities," she says. "We hope to increase their use of tourist attractions, accommodation and resorts in the South of England."

While an exploratory pilot scheme will take place locally, Professor Innes hopes to expand the research to international, as well as UK, facilities. "Lots of work is currently going into dementia-friendly communities – safe cashpoints, trained staff and police for instance – but we are the only people looking specifically at leisure and tourism," she says.

Her initial focus groups with families of people with dementia will feed into research into voluntary organisations, NHS services and businesses themselves. BUDI plans to develop training to shape professional dementia care in the region. In the course of its research, BUDI's team will also interview the many tourist attractions that make up Bournemouth's seaside resort, such as the Oceanarium and venues such as tearooms, galleries, theatres and museums.

Dorset is home to one of the largest ageing populations in England and is a good place to start. Dorset also has the lowest rate of dementia diagnosis in the country, but not because of a shortage of people with the disease. Professor Innes estimates just one in four people with dementia in Dorset have actually been diagnosed.

"That's a shocking statistic. In other areas of the country about half the people with dementia are diagnosed, and if you don't have a diagnosis, you won't be able to access services and support. You might end up in a crisis situation because you and your family have not been able to plan for the future," she says.

Sometimes GPs are reluctant to give a diagnosis due to a lack of local services. A dementia label can also carry a stigma with families and communities – meaning people are reluctant to admit a problem, and doctors might be unaware of the level of care available. Sometimes elderly people will already be in care homes, but labelled as 'pleasantly muddled,' rather than receiving a formal diagnosis.

A strong business case also exists for improving tourist facilities. Experts predict numbers of people with dementia will double over the next 30 years – currently the disease costs the UK economy an estimated £19 billion.

"If somewhere is labelled as -friendly, it's good for the industry and people involved. Staff will be better trained and more aware – and that's good for levels of service overall," says Professor Innes.

Explore further: New website will assist people with dementia

Related Stories

New website will assist people with dementia

November 9, 2012
Researchers from McMaster and the University of Waterloo have developed a new website to help those living with dementia navigate the journey.

People with dementia less likely to return home after stroke

October 31, 2011
New research shows people with dementia who have a stroke are more likely to become disabled and not return home compared to people who didn't have dementia at the time they had a stroke. The study is published in the November ...

Dementia patients need urgent support after diagnosis

November 1, 2012
There is an urgent need for support from outside the family after diagnosis of dementia according to a study led by researchers from the University of Hertfordshire.

Older people with dementia cared for mostly at home

May 11, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Many elderly people with dementia live and die at home rather than in nursing homes, a new study has found.

Extra support needed for younger dementia sufferers, report finds

December 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—The unique needs of people with younger onset dementia have been addressed for the first time in new research by the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC).

Diabetes may significantly increase your risk of dementia

September 19, 2011
People with diabetes appear to be at a significantly increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study published in the September 20, 2011, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of ...

Recommended for you

Lifestyle changes to stave off Alzheimer's? Hints, no proof

July 20, 2017
There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine key risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases around the world.

Blood test identifies key Alzheimer's marker

July 19, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that measures of amyloid beta in the blood have the potential to help identify people with altered levels of amyloid in their ...

Steering an enzyme's 'scissors' shows potential for stopping Alzheimer's disease

July 19, 2017
The old real estate adage about "location, location, location" might also apply to the biochemical genesis of Alzheimer's disease, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Brain scans may change care for some people with memory loss

July 19, 2017
Does it really take an expensive brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer's? Not everybody needs one but new research suggests that for a surprising number of patients whose memory problems are hard to pin down, PET scans may lead ...

Can poor sleep boost odds for Alzheimer's?

July 18, 2017
(HealthDay)— Breathing problems during sleep may signal an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, a trio of studies suggests.

Hearing is believing: Speech may be a clue to mental decline

July 17, 2017
Your speech may, um, help reveal if you're uh ... developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.