he World Health Organization estimates that 35.6 million individuals around the globe have dementia, with 7.7 million new cases being identified each year. At this pace, dementia cases are anticipated to rise by 2030 and treble by 2050. Dementia care is always changing as researchers work to enhance treatments and care due to the ageing population and rising number of dementia patients. Few medical facilities have developed distinctive dementia communities in light of current medical advancements. 

“These specific approaches are the key to increasing the quality of life for these people without excessive medication,” says Dr Paul Newhouse, head of Vanderbilt University’s Centre for Cognitive Medicine. 

A research paper titled ‘Architecture as a creative practice for improving living conditions and social welfare for Alzheimer’s patients ‘tries to find the ideal physical setting for enabling persons with Alzheimer’s to go about their regular lives The objective is to show how, from the introduction of the first specialised centre, which utilised a wholly residential design, to the arrival of a new, residential care model, the regular hospital model for this type of patient has altered over time. 

The components of a novel building design are as follows:

  • Housing is the fundamental component of spatial order. 
  • The small size and location of the residential area – The number of inhabitants directly impacts how facilities for Alzheimer’s patients are designed. According to design guidelines, residences with fewer occupants lessen dementia patients’ exposure to excessive stimulation, mostly due to noise management.
  • Combining residential services with care services – The requirement to create places that are not just residential but also incorporate the specialised care that dementia patients need has led to several structural modifications in treating dementia patients over the past few decades. In this way, a mixed model that incorporates care services in residential areas outfitted to match a domestic environment has evolved from a solely residential one.
  • Including modern technology – The patients’ spatial disorientation is brought on by an unfamiliar environment, a misperception of their living period, and is made worse by the loss of personal identity. The facilities utilise automatic mirrors that can become opaque and mirror with tasks, temperatures, times, activities, position sensors, or sensors linked to light circuits, and bio-climatic features that warm and soothe the home environment.

According to research on recollection therapy, memories are more likely to be triggered or even restored when people physically execute an action, particularly if it’s one they used to do often when they were younger. A key component of that is a connection since when a person must leave a specific, defined area to engage in an activity, incidental contact with neighbours occurs, and old habits re-emerge.

Carpe Diem Dementia Village

  • Architects: Nordic Office of Architecture 
  • Area: 18000 m²
  • Year: 2020
  • Location: Donski, Norway 

Concept – Instead of feeling like an institution, Carpe Diem Dementia Village was created to resemble a familiar home. Residences, a treatment facility, and a community centre were all planned as one cohesive town with a boundary from nature and a line of communication with the countryside. The main entrance, the common house, and the administrative area create a square with an urban feel. With the addition of gardens and squares, the homes were created to evoke a cosy feeling in a typical tiny house setting. The two- to three-story buildings are divided into smaller apartments for a cosy village atmosphere. 

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Dementia patients frequently struggle to identify their surroundings and get themselves oriented. Hence, people must see outside environments as distinct places. The firm has incorporated several markings and instantly identifiable components to make it simpler for the inhabitants to navigate these places.

Material use – The general design idea contrasts the city and the rural. Urban-style structures and houses in natural settings surround the plaza. The choice of materials emphasises this externally. Brick serves as the façade’s primary building material. Untreated wood cladding and red pine wooden arrows are utilised as secondary materials to bring variation and a cosy feel.

Alzeheimer’s Village 

  • Architects: Champagnat & Gregoire ArchitectsNORD Architects
  • Area: 10700 m²
  • Year: 2020
  • Location: Dax, France 

Concept – A meaningful existence involves recognisable surroundings devoid of alienating or obstructive features. A grocery store, a hair salon, a café, and a market square have been included in Alzheimer’s Village to provide patients with a sense of home and reminiscence of their former life in their local communities.

A leisure area where locals may unwind or take a walk has been created by integrating the complex with nature and altering the existing environment with its distinctive old pine trees. A trail weaves across the scenery to ensure that no inhabitants stumble into dead ends or get lost and creates a self-contained circle. The complex is divided into four clusters, each with around 30 inhabitants living in tiny “families” with all the required amenities and outdoor space.

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References | Dementia Villages

  1. Veszprem (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veszpr%C3%A9m [Accessed 13 February 2023]
  2. Veszprem. Britannica.  Available at: https://www.britannica.com/place/Veszprem-Hungary  [Accessed 13 February 2023] 
  3. Paula Pintos. Alzheimer’s village/NORD Architects. Archdaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/973948/alzheimers-villa-nord-architects. [Accessed 2 March 2023]
  4. Paula Pintos. Carpe Diem Dementia Village/Nordic Office of Architecture. Archdaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/955466/carpe-diem-dementia-village-nordic-office-of-architecture [Accessed 2 March 2023]
  5. Danny Szlauderbach. Memory Care design and architecture: A human centred approach. A place for mom.com. Last Updated at: April 1,2022.  Available at:  https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/designing-alzheimers-facilities [Accessed 2 March 2023] 
  6. Santiago Quesada-García & Pablo Valero-Flores. Architecture as a creative practice for improving living conditions and social welfare for Alzheimer’s patients. Proyectos Arquitectónicos,University of Seville. Available at: https://idus.us.es/bitstream/handle/11441/65445/architecture_creative.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y. [Accessed 2 March 2023]
  7. Hannah Karim. What is a dementia village? The future of dementia care. Available at : https://lottie.org/dementia-support/what-is-a-dementia-village/

[Accessed 2 March 2023] 

Author

Arushi Bhargava is a literary enthusiast and an architect! Throughout her life and education, she has been on a quest for discovering more artistic, literary, and architectural treasures.