13/09/2015 7:42 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Dementia Friendly Communities Lead The Way In Sensible Infrastructure

Shutterstock / Joe Belanger

The figures representing men's and women's bathrooms may seem universally understood, but dementia can erase the meaning behind symbols.

An initiative by Alzheimer's Australia is looking at changing the infrastructure that underpins our communities to prepare for dementia rates to triple by 2050 and clear signage is just one of the areas addressed.

Dementia-Friendly Communities is a long-running project seeking to ensure town centres have seating in public areas, public transport links and clear signs as well as events to address social inclusiveness and health.

More than 342,800 Australians have dementia and this number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030 and almost 900,000 by 2050.

Alzheimer’s Australia chief executive officer Carol Bennett said communities needed to prepare now.

"The way people experience dementia is up to you and me," Bennett said this week at Parliament House to launch Dementia Awareness Month.

"While government support of start-up programs is required, and political leadership is important, change begins and ends with all of us.

"We encourage everyone to realise the benefits that come from creating a more inclusive society for people living with dementia."

The organisation has released a white paper highlighting the need for dementia action plans across Australia.

Port Macquarie introduced an action plan in 2014 and are working towards replacing signage and setting up programs like Dementia Mates, which matches volunteers with people who are living with dementia to help them remain socially connected.

The Virtual Dementia Experience created at Alzheimer's Australia Vic's Perc Walkley Dementia Learning Centre is also highlighted for its ability to put people in the shoes of someone with dementia.