JDC Spring-2001 v3 - A Pattern Language for Designing Interiors for Alzheimer's Patients

PATTERN 1 - Activity Oasis

Activity zones should be planned as part of the wandering path. Easily visible to the patients, they should be tangential to the wandering path to avoid distracting Alzheimer patients already engrossed in their activities. Domestic activity zones with one large communal space accompanied with smaller alcoves, scattered throughout the unit help the residents to participate and socialize.


Recent studies indicate that sensory stimulation increases functional ability and enhances quality of life for persons with dementia (Maloney, 1886; Smith, 1988; Mitchell, 1996; Bryant, 1991; Anderson, 1992; Lord & Garner, 1993). The activity zones placed tangential to the path act as a source of stimulation for wandering patients and provide activities to the goal -oriented wanderers (Hussain, 1985). It also serves as an attraction for modelers who participate by following the others. Not only does this help reduce aimless wandering but also keeps a check on weight loss and insomnia by providing a place to rest or sit during the course of an activity (Calkins, 1988).

Familiar domestic spaces like the kitchen, utility and the living room establish a non-institutional atmosphere and mitigate boredom by reinstating familiar tasks. The residents participation in the daily activities program helps them to successfully carry out the routines performed by them earlier in life contributing to a feeling of productivity, independence and in some cases also may facilitate reality orientation. Besides making them feel at home it also inculcates in them an initiating ability and prolongs independent functioning which may help reduce stress in a new environment (Brawley, 1997). Autonomy due to involvement in activities also helps in controlling incontinence. Creative activities help in interaction with other residents encouraging community living and contributing to a sense of belonging and well being (Brawley, 1997). The activity alcoves and areas may also distract the wanderer and reduce attempts of exiting (McLain-Kark, 2000). Spaces located at the end of the corridors encourage the ambulatory residents to stop and indulge in activities, which would otherwise have resulted in agitation and frustration because of encountering a dead end (Calkins, 1988). Smaller activity areas are more manageable and the placements of these along hallways help break up the length of long endless hallways, facilitating a warm residential look. Forming an activity oasis the activity zone will help maintain a connection with life.