Memory Care Decorating with Thought and Style!

8th June 2022

The needs of individual dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are not all the same and even one patient may have different needs on a daily basis or even during different times of the of the day. To make the situation even more confusing there appears to be limited science behind any design suggestions and ‘experts’ vary widely in their advice they give, potentially leaving some of us feeling confused as to the right approach. 

Some experts recommend that colours should be bold and bright while others suggest that they should be warm and muted. Solid colours are preferred by many but a lot of debate surrounds patterns of any kind… although everyone seems to be agree that stripes are a bad idea… as on the walls they can be confused with prison bars by dementia suffers and on the floor as steps or even gaps in the flooring. 

In truth the real answer lies with the patients themselves and how advanced their condition is. For larger facilities with a wide range of needs it is probably best to cater to everyone by having a wide variety of decor throughout the residential wings and common areas… that way everyone can find their spot depending on their type and level of memory loss or cognitive decline. Bright, bold areas may be more appropriate for some residents or for the same resident at different times of day for example in the mornings, and then they can then move to a calm and cozy area for the afternoon or evening times. 

Colour can actually help some patients focus. Using bright plates in the dining room will help diners concentrate on their meals and simulate appetite. Decorating different common areas such as hallways, wings and bedrooms in different colour schemes and styles will help residents to recognize where they are and avoid the confusion of multiple hallways and rooms looking the same, which can even confuse visitors without cognitive impairment at times! Colour coded doors can aid in room identification. You can also place decorations on the doors which will have the same effect and avoid the consequences of residents trying to enter the wrong room, which can be unsettling and upsetting to all.

Colour and patterns can also be used to encourage occupants to congregate in certain areas and avoid others. In brighter areas murals, pictures, window treatments and wallpaper all can provide interest. Designs which include birds, animals and flowers can create a talking point and residents can become involved in spotting parts of the design or by counting repeating objects. The increased interest in biophilic interior design (bringing nature inside) has introduced many beautiful fabrics and wall treatments depicting scenes with monkeys, birds of paradise and tropical flowers, which would be ideal in such situations. Some people with memory loss may have trouble with spatial awareness so it is best to opt for contrasting colours on furniture, fixtures, walls and floors to help them distinguish between different surfaces. It is best to avoid the use of throws or scatter rugs with busy designs as these can cause confusion and may present a trip hazard.

Reminiscence Therapy uses décor that brings the well-remembered past alive. Wall murals and other wall art depicting bygone days, and furnishings that mimic the styles of their youth or early adulthood help create familiar and comforting care environments. Aim to decorate with objects to reawaken memories. Allow for personalization of individual rooms with photos, mementos and other sentimental items which will help them identify the new place as ‘home’. Many care facilities are going for a very retro look these days which coincidentally is very on trend elsewhere on home design and so very available right now. If your furnishings reflect the1930’s through to 1960’s you will be creating a familiarity for your residents that will be reminiscent of their childhood and first homes.

Our best advice: Is to book an appointment with one of our Peter Green Commercial Contracts Account Managers and view our wide range of fabrics, wallpapers, furniture, beds and flooring including bespoke furnishings that will suitable to your situation, your budget and your residents. We will help you design an environment that will fell like ‘home’ and show your families that you ‘care’

8th June 2022

Back to blog