November 9, 2021
Neighborhood living comes with plenty of perks for the average family, but did you know living in a neighborhood can also benefit people with dementia? Memory care neighborhoods are carefully and intentionally designed with the goal of improving the quality of life for dementia patients.
When your loved one’s dementia progresses to the point you’re seeking additional support, a safe and comfortable community is likely your first priority. Ultimately, the right place for your loved one will depend on many factors, but you may not realize the important role dementia-friendly design can play in your loved one’s success in their new home.
A memory care neighborhood’s purposeful design takes into account multiple aspects of wellness to welcome residents into a warm, caring, and homelike setting where they can receive dementia care to help them enjoy the greatest level of independence possible.
Language is often among the skills that a person with dementia loses along their journey, and the loss can affect both verbal and written communication. Ultimately, that can render information sources like apartment numbers or hallway signage ineffective. Instead, in a memory care neighborhood, you’re likely to find color schemes, artwork, and other visual cues that make it easier for a memory care resident to identify specific locations.
For example, a memory care resident might know to look for the hallway with the blue carpet if they want to go to the dining room. Many memory care neighborhoods also use shadow boxes filled with mementos from the past outside residents’ doors to help establish an emotional connection to their home.
Other features of dementia-friendly design that may seem to be purely aesthetic are actually therapeutic, as well. For example, contrasting wall and floor colors can help a person with dementia cope with fading depth perception.
In a memory care neighborhood, you’re likely to find exceptional attention to detail when it comes to lighting, and that’s because light (or the absence of light) affects dementia patients in numerous ways. People with dementia often become fearful of the unknown, and this can include dark, shadowy spaces and hallways. That’s why common areas and walkways are well lit.
At the same time, it’s quite common for someone experiencing memory loss to have sleep disruptions and mix up their days and nights. By maximizing the use of natural light and providing adjustable interior lighting, designers create opportunities for caregivers to help residents rediscover their natural circadian rhythms.
Another advantage of the memory care neighborhood model is thoughtful design that promotes social engagement, which can benefit an older adult’s emotional, mental, and even physical well-being. Neighborhoods are generally arranged to make common areas easily accessible and inviting. The idea is that residents are more likely to congregate in these open community spaces or may have their curiosity piqued when they see neighbors enjoying activities as they travel through the neighborhood.
As a person advances through the stages of dementia, confusion and distraction can become increasingly problematic. A memory care neighborhood’s design takes those concerns into account by managing residents’ exposure to stimulation. The neighborhoods tend to be more intimate, with less noise and a more serene ambiance that is conducive to lowering stress levels.
Space to Wander
A common worry for families of people with dementia is the risk of their loved one wandering or becoming lost. Providing 24-hour security to protect dementia patients’ safety is nothing new, but memory care neighborhoods provide a more person-centered approach.
Dementia-friendly design accommodates the wandering behavior common among people with dementia by providing safe places to wander while reducing potential sources of frustration or anxiety. Examples include limiting visibility to areas that are off-limits and creating continuous hallways with no dead ends that loop around to familiar spaces where engaging activities may provide a welcome distraction.
The need for a thoughtful approach to wandering applies indoors and out. A neighborhood setting with safe outdoor access feels less restrictive and more welcoming for a person with dementia, having ample opportunity to enjoy the soothing natural peace of a garden or courtyard, get a little exercise, or simply take a break from that “cooped up” feeling we all get from spending too much time indoors.
In addition to a specially designed living environment, at Springpoint Living at Manalapan we pride ourselves on person-centered care and an exclusive memory care program that provides each resident with unique support for the highest possible quality of life.
Contact us to learn more about how our memory care community can help your loved one feel successful and fulfilled.