Smaller is better for dementia residents

According to Margaret Calkins, PhD, president of IDEAS, a household with eight to 13 residents is better from a dementia resident’s perspective. Studies have shown that dementia residents in larger homes (30 to 70 residents) had higher agitation rates and aggression, faster cognitive deterioration, greater emotional disturbances, and higher charted rates of depression, Calkins said. In smaller homes (nine to 11 residents), those with dementia had less anxiety, less psychoactive drug use, and greater social interaction. Calkins presented at Environments for Aging.10 yesterday in Coronado, California.

Calkins also talked about some interesting experiments. Bathrooms were designed with an unobstructed sightline from the bed to the toilet. When the view was obstructed, the dementia residents only used the toilet 37 times. When they could see the toilet, they used it 285 times. They also found stenciling the word “Toilet” with arrows leading them to it, increased use.

Personalizing rooms allowed the residents to find them easier; so did hanging a large portrait of the resident in or near his or her room. It was found that amber or red nightlights did not disturb the resident’s circadian rhythm.

Increased lighting and contrast no more than three levels apart on a grayscale at the dinner table increased caloric intake by 1,000 calories in three days. Sleep, mood, and agitation improved in as little as 20 to 30 minutes with exposure to the outdoors.

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