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3 Tips for Decorating a Dementia Unit

3 Tips for Decorating a Dementia Unit

Researchers continue to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia every year. For memory care communities, understanding the science behind dementia gives them more tools to create the best possible environment for their residents, including how best to decorate a dementia unit. The right design can promote a sense of well-being, increase independence and physical safety, and encourage enhanced cognitive function in residents.

When decorating a dementia unit, the following three tips can help get the most out of your design.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Color

As we age, it’s normal for our eyes to change. The lens of the eye becomes thicker and more yellow, making it more difficult to differentiate between colors. For instance, if a door and the wall are both light colors that are very similar, it can be more difficult to tell where the door is.

Using contrasting colors (e.g., painting a door a bright yellow while the wall around it is white) helps break up the monotony of color and highlight the object in question. Contrasting colors can also be helpful to visually separate the floor from the walls, making it easier for those with spatial awareness issues to navigate easily.

Vision loss and reduced depth perception can also occur with dementia, so it’s even more important to put contrasting colors to good use. Using color to accent different objects, like light switches, chairs, lamps, etc., can help residents feel confident as they move around the space. Being able to see and find what they need easily will also minimize frustration.

2. Keep It Simple

In general, a simple design is best when decorating a dementia unit. Try not to put too much furniture into one room, which can make it feel crowded and can be difficult to navigate around or become a tripping hazard.

Avoid busy or bold patterns on the walls that might cause agitation. Instead, opt for simple patterns and calming artwork like landscapes, seascapes, and pictures of animals and nature.

Think about grouping furniture together in a way that encourages interaction. For instance, place chairs to face an open window rather than a TV, or add a table with chairs to encourage conversation and shared activities.

3. Let the Light In

Proper lighting is essential to allow both residents and caregivers to see their surroundings clearly. But there is also a growing body of research examining the helpful benefits of light specifically for people with dementia. Light helps minimize sleep disturbances, interruption of circadian rhythms, and sundown syndrome, where agitation increases after the sun goes down.

Where possible, keep windows open to allow natural light in before transitioning to soft, artificial light in the evening. Both natural and warm, artificial light enhances our mood and elicits positive feelings, so be sure to include many sources of light, from lamps to light therapy boxes. Do not use bright, harsh lights or blinking lights because these can make it more difficult to focus.

Seek Out a Well-Designed Dementia Unit

When you’re researching memory care communities for a loved one, keep the above tips in mind to make sure you find the place that’s right for your family. At BridgeWater Assisted Living, caregiving is personal for us. Our memory care community residents enjoy a wide range of amenities as well as cognitive games, music and other therapy, health, and fitness classes, and social activities. Contact us for a tour to see why so many are happy to call us home.