Memories of home

Home is more than a place. It’s a feeling of warmth, of safety, of calm. It’s also a feeling the long-term care (LTC) industry has failed to instill in its facilities. As more LTC providers are branching into and investing in memory care, new interior design strategies are helping to create memory care-specific household models that evoke the comforts of home and provide the specific elements needed by residents with memory impairments. 

A sense of home is especially important for people with dementia, whose quality of life is often plagued by confusion and agitation.  A household model swaps the institutional look for something more familiar.

I Advance Senior Care spoke with two senior care designers to learn more about innovative memory care design and how design elements can contribute to safety and engagement. Amy T. Carpenter, AIA, LEED AP, senior associate and Melissa Pritchard, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, senior vice president at SFCS Inc., shared examples from several of their recent projects.

Though the facilities are all different, the overarching trend is a blend of modern and traditional design to create a cozy, cohesive space. Rooms are filled with furniture and fabrics that offer the look of home but are appropriate for a memory care setting.

The finished look is functional, beautiful and—much like dementia—highly personalized, Pritchard says. “The disease is different in everyone. What we’re trying to design in here is flexibility for staff, family and residents to create supportive environments.”

Everything from lighting and furniture to porches and place settings can improve the quality of life, care delivery and dignity for residents with dementia. “All of those are important components so the space is easily navigable and understood by residents with memory impairment,” Pritchard says.

Take a room-by-room tour to see how residents’ intimate living needs are balanced with institutional requirements. Combined, these big and small details help make a welcoming home.

“We’re trying to make these spaces feel as much like home as possible because it is the residents’ home,” Carpenter says. “We want to make it feel just like it would outside of the community.”

Image courtesy of Alise O’Brien Photography

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Articles , Design