COVERITE ARTICLE

Mindful Dementia.

Creating senior friendly environments.

Advances in research and design principles for people with dementia is at the forefront of the Aged Care sector.

Evidence shows that our increasing aged population will require some type of care after retirement, so planning for the future is more important than ever. A rising number of aged care providers are opting for improvements to infrastructure with fresh, innovative dementia friendly environments in a bid to create a home environment and increase the quality of life of those living with dementia later in life.

Evidence shows that our increasing aged population will require some type of care after retirement, so planning for the future is more important than ever. A rising number of aged care providers are opting for improvements to infrastructure with fresh, innovative dementia friendly environments in a bid to create a home environment and increase the quality of life of those living with dementia later in life.


Through careful and considerate planning and design of architectural and interior environments, furnishings, eye catching colour palettes and textural accents provide a beneficial sensory experience and much needed relief from the mundane and boring. Different Well considered variation in finishes, colours and styles helps residents define the different areas within their building assisting with way-finding. Bright, colourful, and comfortable communal spaces incorporating familiar or culturally significant elements, allow meaningful social and cultural engagement and passively encourage involvement and participation among residents.


Sight impairment is a common challenge presented to our ageing Australians, so due consideration of natural lighting features throughout residential environments is more important than ever, reducing the risk of injury and falls. Natural light sources are also able to reduce disorientation, confusion and associated safety hazards, and positively impacts the general mental health and wellbeing of residents, drawing in the natural environment exterior to their living spaces into the building and creating a warmer and home-like internal space. Well-lit common social settings add a sense of personal independence whilst also maintaining use of residents basic abilities and cognitive skills.


While internal up-grades are important, so too are the external.


Transformation of surrounding grounds into leafy, green gardens, winding pathways with well-considered, empathetic and aesthetically pleasing features allow residents to awaken their senses to the sights, smells and sentiments of life outside their care facility. Use of designed elements such as raised vegetable and herb gardens not only enable residents, active participation and perceived independence. Such considerations also give residents a great sense of personal achievement, and contribute to improved dexterity, relaxation, improved mental well-being, balance and the strengthening of muscles and joints.


The key here is to design both exterior and interior spaces for those experiencing symptoms of dementia with careful consideration and a deep empathy, aiming to make small but significant changes to our built environments that will make a substantial difference to the lives of our aged care residents. Gone are the days of institutionalisation and segregation of our older generations – these have given way to an ideal of home, social inclusion, respect and empathy. Our aged are among our most treasured members of community and our residential care environments should reflect this shift in attitude and aspire to be worthy of those who live within them and their life’s contribution to society in years gone by.

Published by Aged Care Australia March 2021 https://bit.ly/2NqscyX

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