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Design guidelines aim to assist those with dementia, sight loss

June 18, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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The colors, contrast, lighting, fixtures and fittings used in indoor and outdoor living spaces all can help increase the ability of those with dementia and sight loss to be independent and perform their daily tasks. That’s according to research conducted by the University of Stirling in Scotland on behalf of the Thomas Pocklington Trust, a London-based charity that provides housing and support for United Kingdom residents who have sight loss.

The researchers developed guidelines after reviewing the existing literature on the topic and meeting with some older adults who have dementia and sight loss as well as some professionals who serve this population. The guidelines were needed, they maintain, because most previous efforts have focused on ways to “control and contain” dementia behaviors rather than foster independence and ease daily life. The new principles, they add, can be used in people’s homes as well as in the design of seniors housing and other buildings.

Some of the recommendations to assist those with dementia and sight loss:

  • Color. Paint bedroom doors in a range of colors in care homes to assist people in finding their rooms. Consider using a color similar to the front door of a resident’s previous home. Using unique colors for bathroom doors, with supplemental signage or pictures to remind residents of the significance of the various hues, also is helpful.
  • Lighting. Lighting must be uniform within and between different rooms. Some people who have sight loss find it difficult to adapt to changing lighting conditions, and some people with dementia may misinterpret shadows.
  • Fixtures and fittings. People feel more comfortable when they are surrounded by familiar objects, so allow residents to personalize the furnishings in their rooms.

For additional recommendations, read the entire report, “Good practice in the redesign of homes and living spaces for people with dementia and sight loss.”

Related article: Alzheimer’s Foundation, architects collaborate on designs for dementia

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