Are you looking for flooring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s Dementia and Flooring Considerations
In Alzheimer’s dementia care facilities, designers and operators must consider the flooring design as the blank “canvas” to create a living space to promote tranquility, comfort, functionality and safety. The flooring design and type of finish are equally important whether dementia patients are in residential care or are living independently at home.
Careful consideration on the finish, color and overall look of the floor must be made relative to user perception. If the flooring design confuses perception, it can negatively impact those inflicted with dementia by increasing agitation, disorientation and anxiety. This can lead to the increased risk of falls. However, if a resident with dementia feels more “at home” because of the interior environment, this can lead to less stress and better overall safety.
In an Alzheimer’s living care facility, the flooring design should be incorporated with other interior elements such as signage, appropriate lighting, clear contrasts between floors and walls, contrasting handrails and furniture. When appropriately combined, these aspects should foster your loved one’s ability to navigate their surroundings clear and simply, aiding orientation and visual comfort.
A dementia friendly floor, reduces anxiety and stress in patients who may experience the loss of peripheral sight, age-related vision changes and color perception.
Color Selection Guide for Alzheimer’s Dementia Care Seniors
Although color choice and dementia care is not an “exact science,” it is believed the color preference for individuals with Alzheimer’s related dementia are blue, red and green.
Blue is considered a restful color with a calming effect on your mood. It is also the color associated with trust. Blues are the shades of the sea and sky which is thought to induce feelings of calm and convey tranquility, serenity and peace. Research shows that using blue in the physical environment can actually lower blood pressure, and that blue rooms are seemingly cooler than rooms painted in shades of red or orange. Blue also appears to increase the size of the room. Interestingly, blue instills confidence and inspires feelings of trust, loyalty, integrity and responsibility.
Red is the color of passion and drama. It is also known to increase brain wave activity. The color attracts the most attention and is associated with strong emotions such as love and anger. Moreover, red is used universally to depict danger, courage, strength and power. The color red is stimulating, vibrant and exciting. Spatially, it seems to decrease the size of a room, and increases the perceived temperature of the room. If you want to get the attention of an individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia, use red. However, use carefully as red can evoke feelings of aggression and cause visual strain.
Green is symbolic of growth, health and life. In nature we see green in all its glory expressing renewal and life. It is considered the most restful of colors. Green reduces central nervous system activity, and helps individuals remain calm. Using green makes rooms appear larger. Particularly, lime green is effective with individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia for visual attention ( e.g, visual cues for bathrooms, bedrooms, walkers, etc.)
The use of a pink color for the affected individual who may have aggressive tendencies has been suggested throughout research. Try using pink in their personal space as it tends to ease aggression. Pink is the color of sensitivity. The color is associated with love, tranquility and femininity because it is the combination of red (i.e., passion) and the purity of white. Pink has associations with tenderness and nurturing while conveying a sense of safety and vulnerability.
Besides color choice, flooring trends in Senior Living are reproductions of natural patterns and colors. These natural looking surfaces promote “home like” milieus considered less institutional than traditional hospital environments. In studies, participants with dementia commented that they preferred natural colors and patterns over artificial designs.
However, excessive use of patterns or distinctive bold patterns can have a negative effect. Seniors with Alzheimer’s related dementia may perceive patterns and motifs as actual objects. As such, they may be inclined to “pick something up” off the floor. This phenomenon is referred to as the ‘trompe d’oeuil’ effect, where people are confused or tempted to try and pick up design elements from the floor.
Moreover, the color of the floor tile or the pattern in the carpet could have a dramatic impact on the dementia patient’s perception of their surroundings. For example, an extremely dark carpeting may create an optical illusion that depicts a “hole” or a dangerous area to be avoided. Furthermore, drastic contrasting flooring tiles may be perceived as two distinct or different surfaces causing confusion.
This does not mean that your design needs to be bland. Good use of color and patterns can not only lift spirits, but it also helps residents to recall positive memories.
Understanding Color Perception and Contrast
The human perception of color is dependent on the natural pigments of color in objects and how light reflects from their surface.
In color theory there are the three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue, and three secondary colors: orange, green, and purple. Both primary and secondary colors can vary in terms of: hue, value, and chroma:
- Hue: is what is typically referred to as “color.” Hue is determined by one or more of the primary and secondary colors.
- Value: determines the degree of lightness (i.e., or “tint”) or the perceived darkness (i.e., or “shade”) of a color.
- Tint: in more detail, tint is the lightness of a color when white is added.
- Shade: is the darkness of a color when black is added.
- Chroma: is considered the brilliance or purity of a color. Accordingly, the primary colors would exhibit the brightest chroma, and they are considered the most brilliant.
So, when speaking of the contrast between colors, this includes:
- Contrast of hue: For example, the contrast between red and yellow hues.
- Contrast of light and dark occurs when different tints and shades are depict side-by-side to each other.
- Contrast of cold and warm: This occurs when colors with different perceptions of “temperatures” are displayed next to each other.
- “Light” Considerations
Light is a critical factor in perception of color. Our perception of color is a combination of the pigment color of an object or the surface reflection in a specific environment. But, our perception is also affected by how that color (i.e., when exposed to light) reflects off that object.
Now, that we have the science of color behind us, flooring and interior manufacturers have made our design decisions a little easier by grading their products relative to interactions with light.
Light Refection Values
Light reflection values (LRV) are important factors for consideration in dementia environments. The combinations of various colors used in flooring, walls and other interior products can be logically determined 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 and Contrast
Through a greater understanding of the perception of color, contrast and lighting, better designs can assist our loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s related dementia in Senior Living Centers. Most importantly, the knowledge of color perception incorporated into design can help those with dementia to be safer and hopefully less agitated from stress.
Main Line Floors & Interiors for Dementia Care Living
Main Line Floors and Interiors is a specialty flooring distributor and installation contractor in the metro Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Delaware and South New Jersey marketplace. We specialize in helping deliver the best flooring resources to assisted living and senior living environments.
Main Line Floors & Interiors works with industry experts to raise awareness in appropriate design for dementia care facilities. We are committed to understanding the design needs in dementia and mental health to help deliver a better quality of life through building better living spaces.
The number of people with dementia is set to increase dramatically as our population ages. Appropriate design is the key to tackling the changing needs – we have the knowledge and skills to create much safer environments to help seniors navigate their way around more easily. Following are some practical flooring considerations to assist those inflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Flooring Guide for Alzheimer’s Patients
- Use floors that have a matt appearance rather than shiny materials. The glare can alter perception, as well as be perceived as slippery and wet. This perception can negatively affect the gait of the individual and cause anxiety and unfamiliarity.
- Excessive use of patterns or textures can cause illusions leading to confusion and increased agitation.
- Use appropriate contrasts. The use of tones with similar light reflectance values (LRVs) are recommended as a sharp contrast may be confusing.
- Color contrasts can be used to create boundaries. For example, the use of color contrast can create a visual barrier for those areas where residents are not permitted (e.g., staff areas or danger zones).
- Use strong colors rather than paler shades to aid in orientation and understanding of pathways. This is helpful for those afflicted with color vision deterioration.
- Avoid using dark colors. These shades could trigger emotions of imprisonment.
- Consider flooring materials that absorb noise and reduce sound levels between rooms. Noise is another factor that can contribute to agitation.
Main Line Floors and Interiors focuses on the supply and installation of high end residential and commercial carpets and flooring. However, we have great products and installations for Builders, Multi-family, Senior Living, Hospitality and the Real Estate Investor / House Flipper. We proudly serve the Philadelphia, PA metro area, Delaware and South New Jersey region.
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