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Aging and Dementia Design Strategies

March 2020
Design Strategies
The Center For Health Design


Understanding the personal abilities and unique challenges faced by aging individuals, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, better equips design teams to create supportive living spaces. Devising goals that target single symptoms and objectives is not always practical, however, because changes associated with aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias tend to appear in “clusters” rather than in isolation. The design-based evidence associated with designing supportive memory care settings results in 12 programmatic design strategies.


Design Strategies: Aging and Dementia 


Integrate Memory Care

1. Enable interaction between those with and without dementia.
2. Facilitate contact and engagement with the surrounding community.

Reduce Scale

3. Reduce the perceived size and number of occupants per care/living area.

Simplify Layout

4. Design intuitive room configurations, adjacencies, privacy, and affordances.

Include Destinations

5. Capitalize on local amenities, venues, and services.

Provide Access to Nature

6. Offer visual and physical access to natural features.

Maximize Familiarity

7. Emphasize a residential ambiance, character, and décor.

Prioritize Access to Everyday Items

8. Facilitate access to commonly used accouterments, equipment, and tools.

Regulate Sensory Stimulation

9. Regulate the presence, absence, and/or control of contextual stimulation.

Enhance Meals

10. Maximize involvement in meal planning, preparation, service, and atmosphere.

Afford a Spa Experience

11. Optimize bathing location, configuration, fixtures, décor, products, and storage.

Personalize Bedrooms

12. Design bedrooms for comfort, privacy, and personalization.

For more information, see the Design for Memory Care Settings Issue Brief, which includes a more comprehensive overview of these design strategies.