A house in the UK especially designed to help people with dementia stay independent for longer is inspiring families to make changes to their own homes.
The project from Loughborough University and BRE, a group of scientists and engineers, presents evidence-based design, adaptation and support solutions, which allow people to age well at home.
Eef Hogervorst, a professor in psychology at Loughborough University told BBC News: “If people have to go into a care home, it can cost anywhere between £1500 and £3000 a month, so we’ve tried to design a home which allows people to stay at home for longer.
The 100sqm Victorian house, based at BRE’s Watford Innovation Park, has been adapted to cater for different types and stages of dementia, and is aimed at people living with the disease to live independently by addressing their day-to-day needs.
The home includes clear lines of sight and colour-code paths to help guide people towards each specific room and increased natural lighting, which has shown to help people stay alert during the day and to sleep better at night.
“People find it more difficult to navigate a space if it’s all white, all one colour, so we have a contrast between the walls, the skirting boards and the floors,” said Professor Hogervorst.
“There’s also lots of light – in dementia, the circadian rhythm, the 24 hour day rhythm, is often lost and especially when the sun goes down, people become agitated and restless. It’s called sundowning. Making sure that people have enough exposure to light is really important.”
The house also includes automatically controlled windows that open when it gets too hot; noise reduction features to reduce stress; simple switches and heating controls, and safety sensors in high risk areas such as the kitchen; and a homely, simple interior design to promote rest and relaxation.