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

PATTERN 3 - Home Again

People affected by dementia should be allowed to move into the care unit along with their personal bedroom furniture, upholstery, accessories and memorabilia. Moving into a room with a similar environment like the one they lived in at home will relegate a sense of familiarity and hominess.


Because disorientation is one of the most complex problems of Alzheimer's patients it becomes imperative to provide a comfortable and a known environment. Home evokes an emotional memory, a recall of feelings of warmth and nurturing, and individuals with Alzheimer's disease frequently dwell on home and "want to go home"(Brawley, 1997).Further residential environments are believed to promote healing and provide reassurance to those who are living within an institutional healthcare setting (Cohen & Day, 1993).

Being surrounded with their possessions not only eases the transition of moving into their new home-care unit but also reduces stress and induces a feeling of safety in an otherwise new setting. The familiarity a residential approach to design provides, will help residents function better (Calkins, 1987). Knowledge of where ones belonging are placed helps easy location of belongings, inducing a self-help approach and in turn contributes to a positive self-image and a sense of fulfillment. Personal objects help commemorate important events in their lives and prevent severing meaningful ties to their past. Memory linked cues in the furnishing of the residential treatment can help in locating the room and deter frustration and confusion caused by entering another residents room (Brawley, 1995). This helps in mitigating disorientation. The concept of a personal space with rooms reflecting their personal identity is strengthened and the space is more inviting to family and visitors (Brawley, 1997)