Many people think that when designing for people with disabilities the primary aim is to address physical impairments. However, we know that both dementia has an effect on our ability to process visual information, severely affecting our visual perception.
With this in mind, a good and carefully considered interior design can have a significant effect on a person’s ability to function and stay independent and calm within the home environment. Many of the difficulties experienced by people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s can be addressed with telecare, general aids and good interior layout and design.
Design can help and sometimes resolve common difficulties with using the toilet, preparing food in the kitchen, accessing various rooms in the property and finding the appropriate clothes. Design can also reduce aggression an anxiety in the suffer as they find their home environment easier to cope with.
One example of necessary design consideration is the use of mirrors and reflective surfaces around the home. There are stages in dementia when the sufferer no longer recognises their own reflection in the mirror and assumes someone else is in their house. If the individual is still living with a spouse this might cause significant fear and anxiety about the appearance of a substitute figure and the apparent loss of love from their spouse.
A combined approach, which takes into consideration the individual, their history and life story, their carer and their family, can significantly improve the quality of life for those who live with dementia.