These are the 5 Rules Every Designer Must Know to Create Spaces for People with Dementia

People with dementia have very specific needs, and their environments have to be adapted to fulfill them. Whether designing homes or facilities, or even gardens and outdoor spaces for people with dementia, there are certain rules that every designer must follow. These are five that we consider are vital:


1. Create spaces for community integration

It is healthy for people with dementia to be integrated into their neighborhood and relate to people. Encourage socialization by designing spaces to invite people over to interact and share moments together.


2. Make patients feel at home

Keeping a decorative style which people with dementia are used to is going to help them feel and recognized themselves. Their room’s or home’s furniture and decoration must be comfortable for the patient.


3. Encourage brain activity

Colors and objects are beneficial to stimulate the brain of a person with dementia. It helps them as guidance to know where they are or where to go, and as a reference to identify what things are or what they mean. Stimulating their brain will help decrease dementia symptoms and slow down the degenerative process.

Also, environments have to be calmed and easy to digest to make them feel stable and relaxed.


4. Create wide open spaces

It is important, both for the patient and the caregiver, to be able to see each other from anywhere in the room.

In order to feel comfortable, patients have to be able to process the whole environment that surrounds them. Large rooms with big windows connected to open hallways are going to give them visual access to important objects and spaces.

And for caregivers, it is essential always to know where their patients are and to be positioned comfortably to keep an eye on them.


5. Create places for distraction

Whether indoor or outdoor, it is important that people with dementia have a safe and unique space to distract themselves. A place where they can do simple activities like playing table games, sewing or knitting, or anything that they enjoy doing, but that they can identify and relate this particular places to a certain activity.

There are many more rules that need to be considered and applied when designing any type of space for a person with dementia, and there are also many helpful tools and resources of which designers could benefit a lot when taking part in a project. If you want to learn more about these tools, don’t forget to buy the book “Dementia Design Audit Tool” by the Dementia Service Development Center.

7 of the Best Books for Dementia Design you Must Read

If you are interested in improving your knowledge about dementia design, these are the seven books that must be in your library:


Design features to assist patients with dementia in general hospitals and emergency departments

This book describes the design principles, key features, and particular challenges every designer, architect or anyone involved in dementia building design and construction must follow and overcome to ensure that hospitals and emergency departments are adapted to the needs of people with dementia.

It is part of a series of books published by the Dementia Services Development Centre.


Designing outdoor spaces for people with dementia

Supported by research, this book is meant to provide profound information about the design of outdoor spaces for people with dementia in different environments such as towns, cities, gardens, patios, and more.

It was edited by Pollock, A. and Marshall, M, and received 5 stars in a Nursing Times review.


Design for people with dementia: an overview of building design regulators – England edition

This book provides information about legislation, regulations, standards, inspection and enforcement powers of building design for people with dementia in England


Designing mental health units for older people: features to assist patients with dementia and delirium

This books details features of a dementia-friendly design as well as directions to how to create appropriate environments for the interventions that patients with dementia typically undergo. It also helps to understand the impairments and disabilities an elderly patient with dementia and delirium faces.


Designing balconies, roof terraces and roof gardens for people with dementia

This book is meant to advise how to create outside spaces that are not located on the ground or first floor of the building. It details practical ways to take advantage of these spaces and adapt them for people with dementia.

It is part of a series of books published by the Dementia Services Development Centre.


Designing interiors for people with dementia – 4th edition

This is an assisting tool for guiding designers and architects to create and accommodate spaces in order to take care efficiently of people with dementia in an appropriate environment, whether a care facility or at their own home. It details aspects of indoor architectural and design elements that have a significant impact on the patient.


10 Helpful hints for dementia design at home

This is an easy-to-read book that provides guidance and design solutions to bring commodities and adapt the environment to the needs of a person with dementia, to let them have a little independence in their own home. It is destined for carers and family members that worry about having the right tools for taking care of their patients.

It received 4/5 in a Nursing Standard review.