Flooring Trends in Assisted or Senior Living
Assisted living care is changing rapidly. Senior living organizations are continually innovating how they deliver care. As residents with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, become a larger population of the ageing, senior living facilities are developing special care units and stand-alone facilities to address their specific needs.
Main Line Flooring and Interiors is a specialty flooring distributor and installation contractor in the metro Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Delaware and South New Jersey region. We specialize in helping deliver the best flooring resources to assisted living and senior living environments. This article discusses some flooring considerations needed to help those inflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The complexity of needs of dementia residents involves all facets of design for an assisted living building. Every detail must be closely thought through. While all are critical to the success of a resident’s experience, there is arguably nothing that has a bigger impact than the interior design of a space.
Understanding how people with dementia experience the world helps us create a space can be considered a tool. This knowledge based tool provides “built-in cues” to help those with dementia remember to eat, dress or participate in activities. With a space created just for them, people are able to live more peacefully, more securely and more socially in a world they can understand.
Flooring is one of the most essential factors in determining a basis for designing a dementia environment as it has much impact on safety and orientation of a space, patient confidence, security and independence.
TEXTURES AND FLOORING
Textures must be true to what they are. For example, if a railing or table looks like wood, but doesn’t feel like wood, it can be alarming for those with dementia. This occurs when two separate signals are being sent to the brain. One from touch and one from sight. If the two signals do not match, the person is left with feelings of unease and confusion.
Additionally, there should be limited contrast between flooring. Where two different patterns or flooring types meet, it may create concern about stepping into something new. Did you know that Dementia can bring visual challenges? The problems associated with the brain that cause memory loss can also affect sight. This, coupled with general age-related eyesight deterioration, can make it increasingly difficult to discriminate the differences between textures on the floor. As such, shiny surfaces can appear wet, and dark surfaces can look like holes to those affected with Dementia. Floor patterns can cause illusions, while visual-spatial problems mean rooms can appear flat or 2D.
How to Choose Flooring in Assisted or Senior Living for Dementia
Choosing carpets, throw rugs, or hard surface flooring typically is a matter of personal taste. Our loved ones might be very fond of the stair carpet, tiled kitchens, or ornament throw rugs but they can be hazardous. My mother, and active 81 year old, tripped and fell while sleep walking earlier this year that sent her to the hospital and lost months to physical therapy never to rebound to her previous physical state. Once a loved one is inflicted with dementia, it behooves us to seriously consider all the surfaces they walk on at home or in a senior living environment. The last thing that you – or they – want is a fall.
Falls just don’t cause physical injury. They can also shatter the confidence of someone living with dementia and lead to a rapid physical and mental decline.
Making Floors Safe for Dementia Care Facilities
Patterned carpets can cause confusion to those inflicted with dementia. Some loved ones with dementia find it difficult to distinguish between design and actual objects that they need to pick up or step over. Strong repetitive patterns can cause this ‘trompe d’oeuil’ effect, where people are confused or tempted to try and pick design elements from the floor.
For example, a dark carpet with white specks may look like bits of tissue to some. As such, they may interpret these visual cues incorrectly and try to pick up the tissue pieces. Patterns such as flowers can also be deceptive, as they could believe they’re actually seeing real flowers on the floor.
Similarly, if kitchen linoleum or bathroom tiles are in a black and white checkerboard motif, the black areas may seem like holes in the ground which need to be stepped around. Imagine how confusing and frustrating that could feel.
Understanding LVR Ratings
Light reflection values (LRV) are important design tools for dementia environments. Combinations of various colors and products can be made by using identical or contrasting LRV’s. Since LRV’s are a universal measurement for all materials, the LRV’s for wall covering or furniture can be measured relative to the flooring design.
Color choices in designing for dementia senior living typically is a matter of taste. However, while deigning a harmonious living space you may want to consider how colors effect psychological mood here.
With color considerations, be cognizant that natural thickening of the lens of the eye with age, causes the elderly to possibly experience colors as ‘washed out’. As such, blues, greens and purples harder to differentiate. Additionally, color preferences can change, and loved ones with dementia experience increasing sensitivity to all things. As such, it is necessary to create a balance throughout the journey of the disease.
Contrast can be used to help define objects more clearly and establish boundaries. The use of contrast is extremely important for defining marking edges of things and drawing attention to furniture or other tripping hazards. In design for dementia related visual problems we want to help people ascertain living and functional areas more clearly. For example, if a kitchen has a small step, coloring the step different to the surrounding floors will aid them to make appropriate responses and decisions.
Furthermore, picking out furniture in a color that contrast with the flooring will make it easier for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s to understand depth and spacial orientation cues.
However, drastic color contrasts can also create problems if it causes your loved one to think that there’s a step or a hole where there isn’t one.
Moreover, contrasting floor colors in assisted living can be used to indicate that certain areas are off-limit (i.e., staff & medical areas) or indicate a clearly different space like a kitchen.
In general, try to ensure that the color changes of floors between each room aren’t too drastic.
Thresholds, the strips of metal or plastic that fix flooring between different rooms, should be the same color as the rest of the floor surface.
Benefits of Matt Floors
Shiny flooring can appear wet to someone with dementia. This could mean they’ll become hesitant and unsteady on their feet which can lead to fall.
Matt surfaces typically disturb the reflections that of high gloss surfaces. As such, hard surfaces should, ideally, be matt to reduce the risk of harm.
Removing Potential Hazards
Falls pose a real risk for people with dementia. It is critical to move any objects that pose a tripping hazard.
Most importantly, textiles, hard & moderately soft surface materials, vinyls as well as linoleum designs are able to generate a recollection of the past and create an appealing environment reminiscent to home.
Main Line Floors and Interiors focuses on high end residential and commercial carpets and flooring. However, we have great products and installations for Builders, Multifamily, Senior Living and the Real Estate Investor / House Flipper. We proudly serve the Philadelphia, PA metro area, Delaware and South New Jersey region.
Feel free to leave a comment if this post was helpful or informative. I hope it was.