Design for Memory Care: New Trends

How architects and designers create spaces with the needs of Alzheimer's patients in mind

Find a list of outstanding memory care homes

Ron Possamai and Andrea van der King are two leaders in responding to the needs of Canadians who require memory care in a retirement home setting. Possamai is the Principal Architect with Global Architect Inc., and van der King is Principal Designer at van der King Design Group Inc. At this year's Together We Care conference in Toronto, they presented a look at cutting edge architecture and design in memory care facilities they're currently working on.

Several residences across the province are being built "from the ground up" with the needs of dementia patients in mind. Building designs account for the major symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, including memory loss and disorientation. If designers and architects create spaces with Alzheimer's sufferers in mind, this will make it easier for professional caregivers to ease symptoms, and provide better care. New homes can provide an environment suited to those with dementia, incorporating an up-to-the-minute understanding of the disease and its consequences. [Continued below]

Exceptional memory care homes

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Aster Gardens  

7 Brower Drive, Sherwood Park, Alberta, T8H 1Y7

Aster Gardens, an Optima Living community, opened in March 2021, we are transforming Senior's living. You are going to love living here....Let Us Welcome You Home!

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Carp Commons Retirement Village  

458 Donald B. Munro Drive, Carp, Ontario, K0A 1L0

One visit to Carp Commons Retirement Village and you’ll see the difference in terms of amenities, food, services, programs, and the little touches that make it feel like home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Briton House  

720 Mt. Pleasant Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2N7

Family-owned and operated, the Briton House is dedicated to the highest standards of service. Offering a full continuum of care, a variety of amenities and suites, home-cooked meals, and a 15,000 sq. ft. indoor garden.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Don Mills Retirement Residence  

2 Green Belt Drive, North York, Ontario, M3C 1L8

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Governors Walk Retirement Residence - Metta Lifestyles  

150 Stanley Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1M 2J7

A former monastery and friary, Governors Walk is designed to pay respect to the past while featuring a modern touch. Governors Walk is steps away from the picturesque Rideau River and Stanley park.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Whitehorn Village Retirement Community by Origin  

5200 44 Ave NE, Calgary, Alberta, T1Y7L4

Our life enrichment calendar is full of activities to help you answer the question “What do I want to do today?” Attend our fitness classes, enjoy movies in our theatre, or share laughs over coffees in our bistro.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Riverwalk Retirement Residence  

528 25 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta, V2S 0L5

Riverwalk Retirement Residence is centrally located in the Cliff Bungalow-Mission community of Calgary. We offer a continuum of care including Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Queens Estate Retirement Residence - Metta Lifestyles  

265 Queens Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M6L 3C6

At Queens Estate, we offer a complete range of care services in a welcoming environment. Whether it's our compassionate staff, fresh homemade meals, or exciting and engaging activities, you will truly feel at home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Holland Gardens  

552 Holland St W, Bradford, Ontario, L3Z 4H3

Located in the heart of a vibrant community, Holland Gardens is the perfect place to live, laugh and enjoy life. An exciting community offering a luxurious resort lifestyle, an ideal place for inspired senior living.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Greenview Seniors Residence - Metta Lifestyles  

880 Lawrence Ave E, North York, Ontario, M3C1P6

At Greenview Residence, we offer a complete range of care services in a welcoming environment. Whether it's our compassionate staff, fresh homemade meals, or exciting and engaging activities, you will truly feel at home.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

Origin at Longwood  

6205 Oliver Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia, V9T 6T1

Origin at Longwood offers a choice of spacious suites, featuring large windows with a variety of exposures to Nanaimo’s vistas or Longwood’s pristine forests – most suites also feature a private balcony or patio.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Swan Evergreen Village by Origin  

2635 Eversyde Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2Y5G9

Swan Evergreen Village is a leading Independent Living, Assisted Living & Memory Care community in Southwest Calgary. Our Passion for Caring guides our active lifestyle. quality dining and supporting care needs.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Shores of Port Credit  

280 Lakeshore Rd. W., Mississauga, Ontario, L5H 0A5

The Shores is designed for vibrant living with the highest quality of personal care. Amenities include pool, fitness & exercise club, restaurant, bistro & cafe, a golf simulator lounge & wine cellar.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Promenade Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence  

110 & 150 Rossignol Drive, Orleans, Ontario, K4A 0N2

With so much to do nearby, it’s easy to forget why you might want to stay home, but with its exceptional dining, impeccable design, and fun activities, you’ll find Promenade has many attractions of its own!

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Golden Sands  

9210 91 Avenue, P.O. Box 1380, Lac La Biche, Alberta, T0A 2C0

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Sagecare 147 Elder Street  

147 Elder Street, North York, Ontario, M3H5G9

Enlightened dementia care touches more than memory. 147 Elder St. is a place that provides opportunities for the joy and meaning still ahead when wellbeing can no longer be realized at home.

Lifestyle Options: Memory Care

Prince of Peace  

285030 Luther Rose Blvd NE, Calgary, Alberta, T1X 1M9

Prince of Peace a variety of suites styles with kitchenettes and incredible mountain views. It's the perfect residence for seniors who are active, require some assistance, or have memory care needs.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Sweetgrass  

105 6th Avenue NE, Slave Lake, Alberta, T0G 2A2

At Sweetgrass, we are dedicated to promoting maximum independence, choice, and dignity for each resident and encourage the involvement of family, neighbours and friends.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Park Place Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence  

110 & 120 Central Park Dr, Ottawa, Ontario, K2C 4G3

Whether you're looking for independent living, assisted living or memory care, you can access them all in one location at Park Place. We are a vibrant, social community surrounded by parks and close to many amenities.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Wintergreene Estates  

4950 Pasqua Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4S 7L2

At Wintergreene you'll discover a combination of independence, privacy, activities, health and wellness programs & friendly companionship to savour throughout your retirement.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Hawthorn Park Retirement Community  

867 KLO Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1Y 9G5

Living at Hawthorn Park Retirement Residence means you have choices & can customize the services you need, as you need them. We offer three lifestyle opportunities; supportive living, assisted living & complex care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Dunfield Retirement Residence  

77 Dunfield Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2H3

The Dunfield Retirement Residence has established a new standard in senior retirement living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with 177 spacious apartments. Where people come to LIVE!

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

McCowan Retirement Residence - Metta Lifestyles  

2881 Eglinton Avenue East, Scarborough, Ontario, M1J 0A2

McCowan Retirement Residence is a vibrant and family oriented retirement home located in Scarborough. With team members who have been here since we opened in 2004, you can expect a warm welcome and a feeling of home.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village of Erin Meadows  

2930 Erin Centre Blvd., Mississauga, Ontario, L5M 7M4

Mississauga's unique continuum of care featuring a vibrant Main Street with Independent Living Suites, Retirement Apartments, Full Service Suites, Assisted Care, Memory Care and Long Term Care.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Credit River  

175 Rutledge Rd., Mississauga, Ontario, L5M 0X7

Credit River is a 6-storey condo style residence, with an array of well-appointed suite styles to choose from and our highly-skilled health care professionals are available around the clock if you need them.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Baycrest Terraces  

55 Ameer Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M6A 2Z1

We are Toronto's Finest Kosher Retirement Residence. Located on the Baycrest campus in the heart of North York's Jewish community. Baycrest Terraces, "Where Life Thrives". Call us today for more information.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village Langley  

3920 198th Street, Langley, British Columbia, V3A1E1

We believe that the desire for fulfillment and living a life with purpose does not diminish with a diagnosis of dementia. We focus on the possibilities of each person, supporting each to live with laughter, love and joy.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Origin at Spring Creek  

808 Spring Creek Drive, Canmore, Alberta, T1W0K3

Origin at Spring Creek is Bow Valley’s leading independent, assisted living, & memory care community. Nestled in the luxurious mountain town of Canmore, we empower our residents to remain happy, healthy & active.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village of Riverside Glen  

60 Woodlawn Road East, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 8M8

This elegant Guelph retirement home offers a range of care including assisted living and long term care, serviced by a friendly, caring staff.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Arbour Trails  

32 Bayberry Drive, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 0C9

Guelph retirement home offers Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care. Includes 24 hour onsite nursing team and medication support within a Village-like setting. It takes a Village to care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village of Winston Park  

695 Block Line Road, Kitchener, Ontario, N2E 3K1

This elegant retirement residence in Kitchener-Waterloo offers a continuum of care from independent living apartments to assisted living, memory care and long-term care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Humber Heights  

2245 Lawrence Avenue West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9P 3W3

The Village of Humber Heights in Etobicoke offers different levels of service from independent apartments with meals to assisted living to long-term care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Taunton Mills  

3800 Brock Sreet North, Whitby, Ontario, L1R 3A5

The Village of Taunton Mills in Whitby presents several levels of service from seniors' apartments with meals to assisted living to long-term care.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village at University Gates  

250 Laurelwood Drive, Waterloo, Ontario, N2J 0E2

Now welcoming our Retirement Home Residents to the Village. We offer Waterloo a range of services for today's Senior including Retirement Apartments, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Long Term Care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Wentworth Heights  

1620 Upper Wentworth St., Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 2W3

The Village of Wentworth Heights is a full-service retirement living community offering retirement apartments, full-service suites, assisted living and memory care.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village of Glendale Crossing  

3030 Singleton Avenue, London, Ontario, N6L 0B6

A true retirement hub featuring independent Living Apartments with full kitchens, Retirement Apartments, Full Service Retirement suites with walk out patios, Assisted Care, Memory Care and LTC.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Tansley Woods  

4100 Upper Middle Road, Burlington, Ontario, L7W 4W8

At The Village of Tansley Woods, we offer the full continuum of care - Independent Living Suites, Retirement Apartments, Full Service Retirement Suites, Assisted Care, Memory Care and Long Term Care all in one village.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Vineyards Residence  

726 Valley Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1V 0E9

The Vineyards approach to assisted living & memory care allows people to go about life as they always have, despite health changes. Beautiful suites & homemade meals. Discover for yourself why we say Life’s Better Here

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

Aspira Stonebridge Crossing Retirement Living  

102 Wellman Cres., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7T 0J1

At Aspira Stonebridge Crossing our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Waterford, The  

1345 56th Street, Tsawwassen, British Columbia, V4L 2P9

Featuring bright suites surrounded by pedestrian pathways, and a two-acre water feature in Tsawwassen town-centre. Two choices in all-inclusive senior housing: independent living and a licensed Care Centre suites.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Aspira Douglas Crossing Retirement Living  

6 Douglas Rd, Uxbridge, Ontario, L9P1S9

At Aspira Douglas Crossing our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

New Horizons Tower  

1140 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6H 4E6

From gracious dining to new suites and lounges, residents are enjoying the new management and upgrades found at 1140 Bloor Street West, in the Heart of Bloordale Village.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Richmond Care Home  

27 Nixon Farm Drive, Richmond, Ontario, K0A 2Z0

Richmond Care Home is a unique 16-unit retirement home specifically designed for women living with dementia. We offer cutting-edge exceptional memory care, that's very reasonably priced in an intimate home-like setting.

Lifestyle Options: Memory Care

Magnolia Gardens  

5840 Glover Rd, Langley, British Columbia, V3A 9K3

An oasis in the heart of Langley City, Magnolia Gardens features bright, spacious suites and a warm, friendly atmosphere. Two choices in senior living: 115 independent living suites, and a 40 suite licensed Care Centre.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Ravines Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence  

626 & 636 Prado Private, Ottawa, Ontario, K2E 0B3

Ravines offers you tranquility in one of Ottawa’s most scenic neighbourhoods, Prince of Wales. A social, carefree lifestyle awaits you in a friendly community staffed with individuals who truly care.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Symphony Senior Living Kanata  

27 Weaver Crescent, Kanata, Ontario, K2K 2Z8

Enjoy the natural setting of the surrounding Kanata Lakes with access to shopping, parks and churches at Symphony Senior Living Kanata. This pet friendly community offers a variety of service packages and suites to fulfill your unique needs.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

Carleton Place Terrace by Symphony  

6 Arthur Street, Carleton Place, Ontario, K7C 4S4

We offer a truly all inclusive plan. We welcome pets: offer residents accommodation options .Our array of activities & chef-prepared meals keep our residents healthy & active. Offering beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

Forest Valley Terrace By Symphony  

1510 St. Joseph Boulevard, Orleans, Ontario, K1C 7L1

Forest Valley Terrace is proud to be the only community that is specifically designed & dedicated to the unique needs of seniors with all stages of Alzheimer’s, dementia or other forms of memory impairment in Ottawa.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

Parkland on Eglinton West  

4650 Eglinton Ave. W., Etobicoke, Ontario, M9A 0E3

Parkland on Eglinton West offers Lifestyle Apartments, All-Inclusive Lifestyle and Supportive Lifestyle options for seniors. Parkland makes it easy for you to do more of what you love!

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Manor Villages StayWell Manor  

174 Ypres Green SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2T 6M2

Staywell Manor Village offers elegant retirement living in the heart of Calgary. Whether you are looking for independent living, assisted living or memory care, we have lifestyle options to meet your needs.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Delmanor Elgin Mills  

80 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4C 0L3

Award Winning Delmanor Elgin Mills, has proudly served the Richmond Hill community since 2002.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Lanes Retirement Living  

134 Airport Heights Drive, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1A 4Z7

Conveniently located in the city's east end, our newest location provides an upscale retirement experience with unmatched services and amenities, personalized care, and a warm family atmosphere.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Aspira Riverbend Crossing Retirement Living  

2235 Heseltine Rd, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4V 2Y7

At Riverbend Crossing our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Memory Care

The Meadows of Aurora  

440 William Graham Drive, Aurora, Ontario, L4G 1X5

The Meadows of Aurora is a Christian Seniors Lifestyle Community that promotes the wellbeing of individuals 65+. Residents experience nature’s green spaces, memorable dining experiences and great times with friends.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Active Living

OPAL by Element  

438 West King Edward Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Y 05M

438 West King Edward Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Y 0M5 Opal offers a full continuum of support from Independent Living, Assisted living all the way to Complex Care, allowing the opportunity for aging in place.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Aspira The Barrieview Retirement Living  

3 Concert Way, Barrie, Ontario, L4N6N5

At Aspira The Barrieview Retirement Living our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Wentworth Manor  

5717 14 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta, T3H 3M2

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Aspira West Park Crossing Retirement Living  

1801 Meier Drive, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, S6J0C3

At Aspira West Park our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Hamilton High Street Residence  

23100 Garripie Avenue, Richmond, British Columbia, V6V 0B9

Welcome to where independence meets peace of mind. Experience Richmond's cruise-inspired community offering gourmet meals, active living, entertainment & services that are not in-your-face, but there when you need them.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence  

460 Rymal Road West, Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 0B2

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Hamilton seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Willow Retirement Community  

12275-224th Street, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, V2X 6H5

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Maple Ridge seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Eau Claire Care Residence  

301 7th Street SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 1Y6

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Calgary seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care, Assisted Living

Chartwell Scarlett Heights Retirement Residence  

4005 Eglinton Ave West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9A 5H3

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Etobicoke seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Georgian Traditions Retirement Residence  

57 Trott Blvd., Collingwood, Ontario, L9Y 0A3

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Collingwood seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Empress Kanata Retirement Residence  

170 McGibbon Drive, Kanata, Ontario, K2L 4H5

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Kanata seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care


Home Care companies in all and area.

Qualicare  

Toronto, Mississauga and Belleville, Toronto, Mississauga and Belleville, Ontario, M8X2X9

Qualicare offers reliable and consistent caregivers and nursing for patients with medical, dementia, and mobility challenges. We also support people during and after hospital stays and within assisted living residences.

Lifestyle Options: Respite care, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care, Home Care

Lawbell Senior Home Care Services  

7191 Yonge Street, Markham, Ontario, L3T 0C7

Lawbell Senior Home Care Services We offers medical and non - medical care support for seniors and people of all ages, in their homes, retirement residence, hospitals and Long term care facilities.

Lifestyle Options: Respite care, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care, Home Care

Nurse Next Door Toronto Beaches  

Eglinton Avenue East, Scarborough, Ontario, M1K 2M8

Nurse Next Door Toronto Beaches provides compassionate 24 hour personalized senior care services with bonded, registered & licensed Nurses / RPN's, in your home, hospital, rehab, LTC & retirement communities.

Lifestyle Options: Respite care, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care, Home Care

So how do they do that? And what does that look like? Ron and Andrea presented some of their cutting edge designs and ideas at the recent conference from the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA) and the Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA), in Toronto.

Basic principles

Some basic considerations they work from are as follows:

  • Creation of spaces that are home-like (not clinical) in look, feel, layout and scale.
  • Facilitation of closer relationships, where residents become familiar with each other in smaller numbers: "personal relationships are supported and stress levels are minimized by households or situations where 10 or 14 residents have a shared living area," says van der King.
  • Creation of an environment that minimizes seniors' tendency to disorientation, wandering or elopement.

Van der King presented some of her current projects showing how these considerations are implemented into designs.

Here's a look at some actual design features being implemented in new memory care facilities, notably Birchwood Seniors Living in Peterborough, Ontario.  

Design features in new memory care homes

Continuous circulation paths

These are a part of many current memory care facilities. The absence of hallways off to the side, and other dead ends eliminates wrong turns, with the attendant confusion and disorientation that goes along with those.

Accounting for incontinence

Incontinence goes with Alzheimer's Disease, so private suites in Birchwood are designed with the washroom easily accessible, and ideally "in the line of sight" of the senior's bed, to minimize confusion in the middle of the night.

Access to secured outdoor spaces and natural areas

Closed courtyards are part of some traditional retirement homes, certainly, but in memory care designs by van der King, these are created with much more specifications. Circular pathways are one feature seen in current designs like that at Birchwood.

Hallway opening on a wide courtyard, in a dementia care community by van der King Design Group
Bright open hallway, opening on an enclosed courtyard, in a dementia care community by van der King Design Group and Global Architects Inc.

 

Clinical aspects designed as comfortable elements

Birchwood's design tries "as much as possible, to mirror life through the engagement of familiar surroundings" that look like local surroundings. This is most clearly epitomised in the main street and village feel in Birchwood (a design element seen in other contemporary residences, notably Schlegel Villages). Clinical aspects like nursing stations use the facade of a village doctor, which feels more comforting. This is not meant to "trick" those with dementia but guards their safety and security, removing things in their environment that may make them apprehensive or disoriented.

Kiosk in a dementia care community by van der King Design Group and Global Architects Inc.
Friendly-looking kiosk in a dementia care community by van der King Design Group and Global Architects Inc.

 

Biophilic design principles

Features like living walls (also called green walls) are implemented in Birchwood and other contemporary memory care facilities. Birchwood "incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation… and other experiences of the natural world into the modern built environment," says van der King. Birchwood's design aims to provide maximal access to daylight and chooses materials close to those found in the natural world.

Layout that encourages family interaction

Spaces are opened up to a degree, but retain just enough privacy to allow families to cocoon during visits, while being able to interact in a way that mutes any acoustic commotion.

Colour coding and texture orientation

Aspects of hallway design are focused on minimizing resident's need to remember where they are or where they were going. Designs employ elements like colours and textures that orient clients and reinforce that they are on a path that leads somewhere. This has been shown to be very effective in helping dementia sufferers with short term memory loss.

Muted acoustics

According to van der King, "residents often feel overwhelmed when there is too much activity in any setting. Rather than simply reducing all forms of stimulation, we try to focus on minimizing sources of stimulation that have a negative impact on residents."

Entrances and exits that optimize safety and security, preventing anxiety and disorientation

Exiting and elopement tendencies are one of the greatest dangers in older "nursing homes" etc. If it's too easy to find the exit, dementia patients can wander off. One feature that van der King adds is interactive diversions posted at exit points, that help redirect the attention of residents in a more positive manner. This can include colourful flower boxes, for example. When family or others leave the residence through a regular exit door, the resident is diverted from exiting or elopement. 

Design with the needs of memory care patients in mind

The promise in all this is that we will create environments that apply our full understanding of the needs of Alzheimer's patients. These cutting edge memory care designs are a helpful, more compassionate response to the needs of those with dementia. Our understanding of dementia is increasing all the time, and these designs use an understanding of how dementia sufferers see the world around them. The promise in these is that we can create environments that are built with their needs in mind, not one to which they are expected (unrealistically) to adjust to.



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