Designing With Purpose – Memory Care

ID Collaborative blog post

You may not know that senior living is one of the main types of design that we work on at ID Collaborative. We have been featured Environments for Aging and Health Care Design Magazine. We are also members of various senior care focused industry organizations such as Leading Age. There are a lot of different strategies we use when designing these facilities from using certain fabrics and furniture to special design elements. One segment in senior living that can be particularly tricky is memory care. This demographic interprets color and pattern differently than the average person. There are a lot of typical design elements which do not function the same way in memory care setting as they would in other applications. For example, changes in flooring color or texture, such a a border in a corridor, can be off-putting for a memory care patient and cause them to avoid these areas.

It is always our goal to give the end-user an innovative and comfortable space. However, using knowledge based design, we can use design elements like the one previously mentioned as an opportunity. A major symptom among memory care patients is wandering. It is important for our design to help staff prevent wandering as much as possible without “imprisoning” the residents. Knowing that memory care patients won’t venture into certain areas, we are able to use patterns and materials to keep them from accessing doors without having to use a physical barrier. An example of this can be seen in the Well Spring Memory Care wing (pictured below). Here we changed flooring materials directly in front of the exterior doors from a wood look product which is used throughout the facility to a linoleum. A memory care patient would be uneasy about crossing the transition, helping to keep them in a safe within the building. This design element is not only an attractive addition for you and me, but functions as a very effective security measure the residents.