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Environmental Design for Dementia Care Towards more Meaningful Experiences through Design

Ludden, Geke and van Rompay, Thomas and Niedderer, Kristina and Tournier, Isabelle (2019) Environmental Design for Dementia Care Towards more Meaningful Experiences through Design. Maturitas. ISSN 0378-5122


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Dementia is generally considered to be one of the most pressing societal issues now and in the years to come. Although insights from different disciplines have contributed to a better understanding of dementia and the development of interventions targeting dementia symptoms, there is a lack of integration of insights from these different perspectives for the purposes of design for dementia. The aim of this paper is to show how insights from environmental psychology and advances in technology can inform a user-centred multidisciplinary design approach. To this end, first a brief meta-review of (systematic) reviews from the fields of assistive technology for dementia care and healing environments research is presented, after which gaps and opportunities for a multidisciplinary design approach are identified. To illustrate what such an approach could look like, two exploratory case studies are presented in which technology-enhanced prototypes of an experience handrail (aimed at facilitating wayfinding by providing meaningful sensory experiences) and a virtual nature installation (aimed at providing relaxation and stimulating social engagement) were implemented at a Dutch care centre for people with dementia. Preliminary evaluations indicate that these designs contribute to the wellbeing of people with dementia and confirm the fruitfulness of the design approach presented in this paper. Furthermore, this approach may not only provide a means to optimize existing environments and enhance ease of living, but may also lead to novel solutions to the challenges people with dementia face on a day-to-day basis, and improve their quality of life.

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