Alzheimer’s Foundation, architects collaborate on designs for dementia

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) and the Perkins Eastman Research Collaborative have joined efforts to produce a set of best practices for designing long-term care environments for residents living with dementia.

The report, “Excellence in Design: Optimal Living Space for People With Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias,” was collaboratively created to combine the wider clinical understanding of the disease with today’s awareness of person-centered design and spaces that are both personal and flexible.

“Where and how people with dementia live is an essential conversation, from medical, economic, social and practical perspectives,” said Carol Steinberg, AFA’s president and a key contributor to the report, in a press release. “In the absence of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, care is critical. This report presents practical building blocks for improving the overall care experience both for residents and their families. The domino effect can be enormous.”

Emily Chmielewski, EDAC, associate at Perkins Eastman and the report’s author, added, “Everyone wants—and deserves—a supportive place he or she can call home. Our goal in developing this report was to present a philosophy of both care and design that will help change the long-term care landscape to meet the needs of residents, their families, and professional caregivers.”

The design guidelines will serve as a component of AFA’s Excellence in Care program.

An estimated 5.1 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease, including 15 percent of nursing home residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although commonly thought of as an “older person’s disease,” the AFA notes that about 500,000 Americans with Alzheimer’s are aged fewer than 65 years.

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