The aging in place movement continues to be a largely discussed topic within the remodeling industry, especially as more and more members of the Baby Boomer generation retire. Initially the conversation revolved around physical home improvements, such as grab bars and widened doorways. However, it is now evolving and interior design elements are being paid closer attention to. This is particularly true in homes where family members have symptoms of dementia because memory care facilities can easily have a monthly cost of $10,000. Here’s what you need to know.
Natural Light Inclusion: Natural lighting is lauded for its ability to increase one’s energy levels and enhance their mood. One of the struggles of those with dementia is that they regularly experience difficulties maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. However, the presence of natural light can act as a nonverbal indicator of time and assist in the development of healthier sleep patterns. Furthermore, the presence of natural light can combat shadows that can be perceived as threatening by those with dementia.
Color Blocking: Those experiencing symptoms of dementia can oftentimes become confused, even within familiar surroundings. Homes with open floor plans aren’t helping the matter because it can be tricky for a patient to distinguish the purpose of a room. Combat this by changing up colors between rooms so that it is easier for the senior to remember the function of each room based on its color scheme. It is especially helpful to have the bathroom door a different color than the walls that are adjacent to it. Solid colors on walls, flooring and furniture are preferential because the patterns themselves will not be mistaken for live objects.
Outdoor Access: Some studies have suggested that symptoms of aggression can be lessened within dementia patients if they have convenient outdoor access. This can be achieved by having easily identifiable, user-friendly doors. Dementia patients can be wary of unfavorable weather conditions, but can still reap benefits from spending time on three or four season porches.
Noise Reduction: Those with symptoms of dementia are often affected by sounds, particularly if they are not able to identify their source. Walls should be well insulated and care should be taken to select flooring materials that absorb noises.
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Minimize Mirrors: A widespread symptom of dementia is paranoia. Mirrors can contribute to this because those with various stages of dementia may believe that their reflection is actually an intruder that is watching them. When possible, opt to remove mirrors on walls, medicine cabinets and closet doors in order to alleviate the patient’s feelings of anxiety and paranoia. In the instances when mirrors are needed, opt for portable ones that can be tucked away when not in use.