Anique van Helden – Graduation project 1516
Take away the stress of people with Alzheimer
In the Netherlands almost 200.000 people suffer from Alzheimer. As the disease is age related, a troubled future unfolds for our ageing society; a future that is similar to the progress of Alzheimer’s itself. In the first stages of Alzheimer, the person involved is unaware of the disease. But when gradually the daily activities cannot be executed properly, living at home is no longer an option. My grandmother was no exception. Unfortunately she went to a care facility where she never found her peace. The disease disturbed her and made her anxious; behaviour that she never showed before. The stress of a patient is caused by the declining ability to understand the environment and the increasing feeling of being lost. This led me to my design aim: how can I, as a spatial designer, create an environment that can alleviate the stress of people with Alzheimer within a care facility?
On the basis of my personal observations in two care facilities and through literature research my proposal is to create a sensory guidance in time, activity and place. This guidance should lead the residents through the day, starting in the morning at their small, private and intimate bedrooms. In the course of the morning they will move to a communal living space and after that, during lunchtime, to an even larger shared space where the amount of light will slowly increase. After lunch, a slow journey is undertaken back to their private rooms, where the ritual will restart in the afternoon. Light, colours, materials, textures, structures, smells and sounds should guide the residents through the spaces, indicating their position and current activity: a hard path for wandering around, a soft corrugating space for sitting, a sound-proof cave for withdrawal etc. In the end the sensory guidance will create a safe landscape inside a care facility, where people with Alzheimer will no longer feel lost and stressed.
All images @INSIDE & Anique van Helden