Creating Spaces for Alzheimer’s Patients: Adaptable Universal Design

by LizMurphy on October 11, 2011

Universal designs are not only a more cost-effective solution, but a more comfortable one for residents and their loved ones. As Manuel Del Río of Río-Ferrero Architects put it, “The trend moves towards a universal designed facility that meets all of the requirements, and can be managed modularly according to the changing circumstances in the life cycle of each resident.” Such models can also be easily replicated in other towns, and are easier for patients to orientate themselves and find their way around.

Many providers find it easier on their caregivers to group together patients with similar degrees of Alzheimer’s and dementia. But how should the design be altered as Alzheimer’s residents progress through advancing stages of the disease?

When it comes to the design of the building Margaret Calkins, President of IDEAS Inc. and author of Design for Dementia, believes there’s nothing that you’d do radically differently for individuals at different cognitive stages. “Certainly for someone who is very bedbound at the end of life you want to be thinking about the immediate tactile and visual environment. [For instance] paying attention to details like not having lights that are glaring down on a person who is lying in bed and looking up.”

With an ageing-in-place approach, the residence remains the same, while the activities or services vary according to the patient’s evolving needs.

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