How to create Dementia friendly design


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Hey, everybody back with another car video. As you know, I do them once a month. So please tune in and check out my ridiculous car videos. Today I’m going to be telling you about the three things that you definitely need when you’re designing a dementia care program in a dementia care community for interior design. So you want your interior design to be dementia friendly, first things, first…being realistic AKA. We want to make sure we’re using baby dolls that are realistic and look good. They’re not cabbage patch dolls. I encountered that in a community before they were using cabbage patch dolls. And they were like, why? Why don’t the residents think these are real? Why do you think they don’t? I can’t even. So I recommend the 20-inch Behringer baby dolls. You can find them on Amazon or probably anywhere else.

I really like those. So we want things to be realistic when we’re setting up life stations. When we’re creating programming, when we’re designing in the environment, we want things to look and feel real. And I have down here written for everyone because I also want it to be realistic for everybody, meaning your staff cannot be expected to just throw a whole entertainment program for your residents together at the last second. Having creativity boxes, having boxes of materials for your staff to use baby socks for the residents to sort flowers for the residents to arrange needs to be realistic, so they can pull out these programs and use them.

Purposeful things need to be purposeful and goal-directed meaning, we do not want to just set up little abstract activities and interior things that don’t make any sense. So I love life stations that have a purpose. You know, if it’s a baby station, you have realistic-looking babies, and then you also have things for the residents to do at that life station. There are things to fold, there’s clothing to hang up. The baby dolls are there to be taken and walked around with and held, right? So we want to make sure all those things work and make sense. And third, things need to be on that person’s timeline, meaning we do not want music playing in the community. That is from 2020, right? We want music playing that’s on their timeline and not just their linear timeline, like how old they actually are, but how old they feel, which is why we have all these other things, and why we want realistic baby dolls. That’s where they are on their timeline. This is also why I really encourage communities to create shadow boxes outside of residents’ rooms that aren’t full of crap. So put a photo of your resident when they were much younger in the shadow box, it’ll take up the whole space, ideally. And when you’re walking down the hallway, not only does it look great and encourage conversation, but it also helps the resident find their room because they’re looking at themselves on a timeline that they recognize – they’re not 90 years old in their mind, right? Maybe they’re 30.

So, these are the things we really want to look at when we’re creating interior design beyond just color and fabric and all of those important things. How are you creating an environment that is dementia-friendly? Are you making it realistic? Are you making it purposeful? Are you making it on that person’s timeline? And these are also tips you can use at home with a loved one as well.

Visit my Youtube channel for more tips on Dementia Care!

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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