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How good interior design can improve life for individuals with dementia



There is so much conflicting advice about designing for dementia, so the following gives a few tips on the points that are proven to

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really make a difference for an individual with a dementia, whether they are living in a care home, in their own homes or with family.  Whilst no two individuals with dementia will react in exactly the same way there are some generic  tips that can greatly assist.


Contrast and Colour


As dementia often affects eyesight, colour and contrast are very important.  Chairs and bedding need to contrast against the walls and flooring, if they don’t then a quick and cheap solution is to put a brightly coloured contrast cushion on them.  Sanitaryware similarly needs to contrast – white items cannot be seen against white tiles, neither can a white toilet roll – contrast is needed here around the bath, shower, washbasin and toilet.


Plug sockets and light switches should contrast with the wall and show clearly if they are switched on.


Tableware should have a plain centre, as pattern can present as food on the plate but should have a contrasting rim so that the edge of the plate is highlighted against the tablecloth.


Generally colours in warm, mid tones are recommended, along with ranges than throw back more light.


Flooring.  As changes of flooring can present as a barrier, it is better if flooring can flow through in similar colours without stark changes, although changes of height eg stair nosing and ramps must be highlighted to avoid trips and falls.  Avoid high gloss floors as lighting on these can give the appearance of a wet floor which the individual will be scared to cross.  Also avoid typical care-style carpet which can give the appearance that something has fallen on the floor, which the individual may try to pick up, and whi

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ch can also give an hallucinatory effect – tonal carpets work better. Acoustics of any flooring must be considered as should the cushion effect in the event of falls.


Lighting.  Always make the most of natural light by ensuring that curtains clear windows by using slightly longer curtain po

les and avoid deep pelmets.  Keep windows clean and cut down shrubbery where it is blocking light.


Offer a range of lighting which can be adjusted to suit the individual where possible to include ceiling and wall lights, task lighting, standard and table lamps.


Visibility.  Items like tableware and groceries are better stored on open shelving where they are more visible and can be easily accessed.  Make sure that the purpose of every room is clear.


Ease of use.  Individuals will feel less frustrated and more independent if items are familiar (eg crossbar or lever taps) and

For further information on interior design  for dementia or a factsheet please contact Eda, Access 21 Interiors, on 020 8399 3091 or email to use rather than trying to use complicated gadgetry.



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