According to the US Census Bureau, 78 million Americans will be aged 65 and older by 2035 compared to only 76.7 million people under the age of 18. This is mainly because baby boomers are now entering late adulthood and will be part of the elderly population in a couple of years.
With this in mind, the need for memory assisted living facilities has grown stronger, especially with more elderly people suffering from dementia. But how do these assisted living facilities cater to the need for memory care?
Here are four key concepts that were presented in a white paper co-published by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and design firm Perkins Eastman called “Excellence in Design: Optimal Living Space for People With Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias:”
Most patients with dementia and other cognitive impairments easily get overwhelmed with large spaces and groups, and it causes them to be confused, uncomfortable and irritable.
Add to the stress of visiting the doctor and you’ll easily see a patient getting distracted and stimulated in this kind of environment. This is why memory assisted living facilities need to focus on creating a smaller and quieter environment for dementia patients.
A Sense of Familiarity
Nothing is more frustrating for a patient with dementia than to feel that he is in new territory. This will make them feel disoriented and uncomfortable, which is why it’s very important to design a space with things that are familiar to them.
Memory assisted living facilities should think about the things that will make space feel homier to the patient like the abundance of natural light, objects from home and just a relaxing atmosphere.
One of the most important things for any assisted living facility is to design a space where dementia patients can easily find their way. Aside from thinking about a proper layout, memory assisted living facilities should also have proper landmarks and visual cues to minimize the stress in patients and lighten the load of the healthcare staff.
Safety should also be a priority in these assisted living facilities because patients with dementia are at a higher risk for accidents due to their impairments.
The journey to assisted living is just as important for the family as it is for the patient. Since bringing a loved one to a facility is such a huge step for any family, they need to feel that they are supported every step of the way.
Family areas like waiting rooms and patient rooms should be designed with the patient and his family’s comfort in mind. They should be able to feel like they’re at home where everything is accessible and they can enjoy their private time together as a family.
Assisted living is now one of the most in-demand healthcare services in America due to the aging population. This is why it’s very important to have these four key concepts in mind when designing a space where dementia patients can still enjoy the best quality of life.
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