As noted by the Alzheimer’s Association, assisted living facilities may or may not offer services specifically designed for people with dementia. These institutional buildings were never designed to accommodate large numbers of residents with cognitive impairment.
In a report titled “Excellence in Design: Optimal Living Space for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias,” the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America outlines environments that cannot be found in assisted living facilities not in skilled nursing facilities. From that report:
The Perkins Eastman Research Collaborative conducted a 20-year retrospective study in 2012. The
study identified fundamental design features that are still valid today:
• Personal relationships are supported by households of 10 to 14 residents with
shared living areas
• Residential kitchens are a key part of enhancing home-like experiences
• Common areas should be flexible to embrace various resident activities
• Circulation paths can link activity areas and people
• Residents should have direct access to secure outdoor spaces
• Private hallways help distinguish private bedroom areas from common living spaces
• The non-institutional environment is supported by materials and furniture that are durable
while still residential in appearance
A setting that has an institutional look and feel is not a “home.” The residential quality of
the building is very important, inside and out.
Elements that make an interior environment residential (as opposed to hotel-like
or hospital-like) should be incorporated, including: a residential color palette and
materials (e.g., carpeting, wood, upholstered furniture); providing diversity (e.g., of
furniture styles, types of lighting, varied ceiling planes); soft as opposed to
hard surfaces; and details (e.g., artwork and accessories, window treatments).
Interior layout should reflect conventional residential layouts. For instance, in modern Western cultures, this layout usually consists of a public-to-private transition of entry foyer to living room to dining room and kitchen, with bedrooms in the most private zone. The kitchen/dining/living area is the “heart” of the home, with the hearth a central place of activity. In addition, Western-style homes rarely use corridors. Rooms are arranged enfilade, which means walking through rooms rather than hallways to get to a place (e.g., walking through the living room to enter the dining room). Small hallways are usually only offered as a way to access private areas, such as bedrooms or back-of-house spaces.
By replicating typical home layouts, the building design can help residents feel comfortable, safe, less frustrated, and reduce challenging behaviors.
At ComfortCare Homes, we designed our homes in residential, single-family neighborhoods because we understand that only houses are truly homes, with the hearth as the central focus of the family. Further, we understand the importance of the proper living environment in providing excellent care for those with memory issues.
Please schedule a tour to see the difference a ComfortCare Home would make for your loved one.