People living with Alzheimer's see the world differently. Whether they're living at home or in a dementia care community, it's important that their living space is a place where they can feel at ease.
There are some basic interior design choices that can help to create a comfortable environment.
1. Contrasting colours
Older people in general need up to three times as much contrast to locate objects than younger people. Too many neutral shades in a room can add to the confusion experienced as a result of memory loss. Combine light and dark colours, such as yellow and blue. Also keep in mind that warm tones can be seen more easily.
Apply these hues to walls and bedding. Avoid using a wall colour that's the same or similar to objects in the foreground, as this will make these objects nearly invisible. Bear in mind, too, that shapes and objects may not be recognisable. A dark mat on a light floor, for example, could be mistaken for a dangerous hole in the ground.
2. Memory prompts
Incorporate mementos from the past into the room design. For example, a 1950s radio or a poster displaying a favourite childhood movie or items associated with work may trigger memories that were difficult to recall.
In fact, a common therapeutical tool used by people working with those who are living with dementia is a "reminiscent room," packed with older accessories and objects that stir up fond memories.
3. Effective lighting
Another crucial aspect to a safe living space is sufficient lighting. Avoid fixtures that emit too much bright light. Never include any lights that twinkle or sparkle as this can increase confusion and cause falls.
Remember that natural light is the best way to illuminate a room during the day, as bright, natural environments have several positive effects on physiological states. Adjusting lighting may also help to avoid 'Sundown Syndrome' - the confusion that sometimes happens when lighting changes.
At Sunrise Senior Living, our residential care homes all include an area dedicated to caring for people living with dementia. For more information, please select Contact us at the top of this page.