What is dementia design and why is it important?

by Reiko Pena on Mar 23, 2013

For those readers who haven’t heard the term before dementia design refers to interior design that is specifically planned with dementia sufferers in mind. Designing for dementia aims to assist those with dementia to avoid common problems that occur as a result of diseases like Alzheimer’s. Dementia design may be introduced into an ordinary residential property or into a care home. Many care homes in the UK are rolling out dementia design because of the high number of their residents who are sufferers. The principles of designing for dementia are also conducive to planning more accessible living spaces, benefiting even those residents who not have a diagnosed dementia. Design techniques and their benefits One aspect of dementia design is to adapt the interior layout of a house or care home to accommodate the physical and mental ability of the sufferer or sufferers. Keeping walking areas clear, providing suitable floor grip or support rails and improving the usability of living spaces are some of the methods dementia design. This has been shown to result in improved way-finding and reduction in accidents while getting around. Colours and patterns are also carefully selected. Advanced Alzheimer’s can result in confusion around colours and patterns on the plate and the actual food. Studies in dementia design have shown that avoiding patterns in tableware i.e. on dinner plates etc helps to alleviate confusion and distress. Additional lighting, for example at the dinner table, compensates for deterioration in eyesight. Care home furniture can also be adapted to aid dementia based problems. Though care home furniture is generally selected to suit physically infirm residents, focussing on comfort and ease of use there are other steps that can be taken to optimise the furniture for mentally infirm residents. See through drawer and cupboard doors for example mean items can be found easily avoiding the frustration and anxiety experienced by some sufferers when searching. Dementia design will help to reduce accidents and distress, maximise the existing abilities of those with dementia and relieve some of the strain on the carer too.

General

Source: Access 21 specialises in residential and nursing home design with a special focus on dementia design, learning disability design and bespoke care home furniture. Visit www.a21interiors.co.uk to learn more.
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