Dementia and Planning

An older man sits with his back to the camera in a cafe. Urban planning for dementia allows people to get out and about.Most people living with dementia live at home in the community, not in a facility. Dementia develops over time and people experience it differently. With the right supports they can live independently for several years after diagnosis. Thoughtful urban planning and design is part of the web of community supports. Samantha Biglieri discuses dementia and planning in her short article.

The title of the article is, Dementia and Planning: Expanding accessibility through design and the planning process. It covers walkability and land use strategies, wayfinding, and urban design for comfort and safety. Unique landmarks in the form of street furniture and public art can go a long way in orientating everyone.

Planning specifics

Biglieri makes the following suggestions:

    • A short irregular grid pattern of streets to create identifiable intersections.
    • Streets with ample space for pedestrian with wide buffer zones between pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
    • Variated architectural styles within the same development. Vary the landscape to provide unique landmarks. This includes mixed land-use, different styles of street furniture, public art and vegetation. 
    • Development of memorable landscape features, open public squares and community facilities that promote social interaction and a sense of belonging. 


Contrary to popular belief, over two thirds of Canadians with dementia live in the community as opposed to congregate living. This begs a question that has not been adequately explored in planning practice or academia: How can we as planners who deal with land-use, community design, and public consultation every day, understand and meet the needs of people with dementia (PWD), who are citizens just like everyone else? After examining existing work on the relationship between the built environment and PWD, I argue a dementia-specific approach to planning practice and research is needed in the Canadian context. 


Accessibility Toolbar