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

PATTERN 4 - Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Exit doors are camouflaged to reduce egress attempts by the residents. Doors, panic bars and doorknobs are painted a similar color as the adjacent walls. The skirting at the bottom of the wall is extended across the door and the glazing in the emergency door is covered using blinds.


Independent mobility accompanied with dementia increases safety risks not only for patients but also presents ethical dilemma for the staff (Namazi, Rosner and Calkins, 1989). The visual illusion created by painting the door and the panic bar a similar color to the surrounding environment provides effective means of control (Namazi). These methods are safe and do not cause agitation or waste valuable staff time. They also reduce the chances of injury and confusion caused by alarms (Coons 1988). The skirting across the door makes it seem to be a part of the wall acting as a visual barrier. Since residents are attracted by the view or light at the end of the hallway (Hamilton, 1993) the blind helps by obstructing the view and light, making the window invisible and a part of the door (Dickinson, Mc-Lain Kark and Marshall-Baker). Since impaired vision is a problem with nearly all Alzheimer's patients these attempts to deter exiting are helpful.