Design

Why is interior design important?

It is well documented that interior home design for someone with dementia can often be seen as a type of therapy and can be just as important as taking regular medication.

The benefits of someone with dementia staying in their own home are numerous

  • Most people would prefer to stay in their own homes when ill. Comfort and familiarity are essential for a sense of well -being and security.
  • There may be a reduction in the use of anti psychotics and sedatives as the person feels safe and secure at home.
  • There is an increase in the morale for the person with dementia and their family, friends and carers.

As a general rule, the key principle in helping people stay at home in a safe environment is simplicity. Nothing needs to be over complicated. Creating a safe environment is achieved by taking a logical approach, using your instincts to guide you. Don’t hurry or introduce too many changes.

As a general rule, the key principle in helping people stay at home in a safe environment is simplicity. Nothing needs to be over complicated. Creating a safe environment is achieved by taking a logical approach, using your instincts to guide you. Don’t hurry or introduce too many changes.

Adding a telephone with large buttons won`t change the dynamics too much, but could increase safety and continued use of the phone. Other things which could help are tv remote controls, which offer less control but are bigger buttons and easy to use.hv03005_dallas_10_big_button_telephone

Allowing the person as much choice as possible is another key factor. The focus should be on giving people control of their environment. Focus on lighting, colour and sound – these three things are vital in helping in the improvement of way finding, concentration and judgement.

 

Interior design

eye-eyelashes-face-woman-63320-largeWhile assessing dementia safety at home – interior designing should also consider the persons sensory abilitiesAs most people who have a diagnosis of dementia are older, they may have the added complication of other physical and sensory impairments. What the person may feel, hear and see, may not always be accurate. Along with impaired hearing and reasoning, a great deal of pressure is placed on the senses to make good judgements and comprehend the environment.

Hearing

If a person already has impaired hearing it becomes increasingly difficult for the person with dementia to concentrate. Communication will become more difficult if the environment has not been adjusted or modified to take this into consideration. A person should always be afforded the best possible environment to communicate in. Many aids are available on the market such as loop systems and telephones with amplified receivers.

Touch

As the sense of touch may become more important, people who have dementia may respond to and appreciate touch.

Now is the time to learn big hugs, to learn the pleasure of sitting on the sofa besides your Mum…Give your Dad a manicure, if he is enjoying it – don’t even think about the fact that ten years ago he`d have thought it weird.

— Andrew & House, 2009

Don’t forget that a variety of fabrics can be tried to stimulate the sense of touch. Having the chance to handle interesting sculptures and textiles can be stimulating and petting animals can be calming.

Good grips and contacts are equally important, such as handrails, grab rails, switches and furniture. Sharp objects needed to be avoided to prevent injury.

 

Vision

There are many visual difficulties associated with dementia, when the brain misinterprets the information it receives from the eye. This varies depending on the person and the type of dementia they have and is separate from the health of the eye itself. Some of the problems can include.

  • Impaired spatial contrast sensitivity
  • Impaired motion discrimination
  • Impaired colour vision
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Difficulty distinguishing depth
  • Difficulty in being able to group objects visually
  • Inability to process multiple elements to interpret an image
  • Difficulty separating a figure from its background
  • Problems with control of eye movement, which affects reading
— Jones & Van der Erden, 2008

Smell and taste

The sense of smell is connected to the limbic system which is associated with emotion and memory processing

— Van Hoof, 2010

Every attempt should be made to support the person with dementia in order that inappropriate smells don’t add to the distorted information being given to the person.

Daily smells and the senses of smell that we understand for example would be the smell of freshly cut grass, a pub, coffee house.

Although smells are difficult to measure it still remains important for a person`s home to maintain that smell.

Care should be taken when products are scented artificially – for example washing up liquid or potpourri scented with a fruit aroma. These could easily be eaten by mistake.

Sensory overload

People who have dementia may struggle to make sense of their surroundings because it is to complex. They are in effect suffering from sensory overload and as a result they may process the information they are faced with wrongly.

The benefits of good interior design

If the objective is to enable the person with the diagnosis of dementia stay at home safely, then we need to carefully manage what is seen, smelled, heard or touched. By getting the design correct then this should go some way enable the individual to live independently. This increased independence can result in:

The benefits of good interior design

If the objective is to enable the person who has dementia stay in their home for as long as possible then we should aim to carefully manage what is seen, smelt, heard or touched.

Read more about design elements … here