Design Considerations for Alzheimer’s Facilities

Vucina Construction, Inc. pic
Vucina Construction, Inc.
Image: vucinaconstruction.com

With over a decade of experience at Vucina Construction in Carmel, California, Ryan Vucina has worked on a wide variety of residential and commercial projects. As the Chief Operations Manager, Ryan Vucina’s responsibilities include supervising every aspect of the construction process, overseeing the bidding process, and managing complex teams of contractors. Vucina Construction was recognized by the City of Monterey for its role in constructing the city’s first Alzheimer’s care facility.

The design of facilities with specialized memory care units requires several special considerations. Patients with Alzheimer’s often struggle with being disorientated and making sense out of their surroundings. The design and layout of memory care units can make a significant impact on a patient’s comfort and general well-being. A successful building design can aid in orientation, assure safety and security, and reduce unnecessary stimulation.

Helping to improve a patient’s awareness and orientation can be accomplished in several ways. First, the placement and design of signage can assist patients in finding their way more easily. Placing all signage at eye level can make it easier to find, while keeping the wording very simple can minimize complications. The ability to personalize the entry to a patient’s room can also help orient a patient to his or her surroundings. Finally, creating a floorplan with rooms that have specific uses can decrease confusion.

Safety and security are important to consider. Memory care units should be well-monitored and secured. If possible, entries and exits to inaccessible areas should be situated parallel to main hallways in order to decrease their visibility. Appropriate handrails and grab bars should be included in the hallways, and obstacles within the hallways should be minimized. When selecting finishes, it is important to avoid loud patterns and choose materials that will prevent slipping.

Providing the right amount of stimulation can also help patients in Alzheimer’s units. Installing materials that absorb sound can be helpful in reducing noise in public areas. Experts also recommend minimizing glare from windows and finishes. Designers can also intentionally provide non-ambulatory patients with interesting views out of their windows.

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