How can paint make your aged care facility more dementia-friendly?

According to Alzheimer's Australia, around 50,000 people in New Zealand are living with dementia. This is a degenerative condition that can affect a person's "memory, thinking, behaviour, personality and emotion", and people of all ages. However, it is most common in people aged 65 years and over.

If you run an aged care facility, chances are a number of your residents will suffer from dementia. There are a range of ways you can improve their quality of life – and choosing the right paint for your business is one of them.

One of the best methods of rendering your aged care facility dementia-friendly is to provide your residents with unique environmental cues. Those living with dementia often experience memory loss and disorientation. Alzheimer's Australia reveals that sufferers of the condition may become lost in their own street, unsure why they are there, how they got there, or how they can get home.

The same thing can happen in your business – especially if walls and doors from one room to the next have been painted using similar colours.

In order to "highlight the purpose of different spaces and location of items", states J. Nagy – author of the study published in Alzheimer's Care Quarterly – it's a good idea to paint them distinct colours. This should help your residents overcome disorientation more quickly and regain their independence.

Try a bright and cheerful shade in the kitchen – such as Resene Galliano (a sumptuous yellow) or Resene Guggenheim (a radiant orange) – that's easily to recognise and makes this room stand out from the crowd. 

A more soothing colour, such as Resene Origin (a calming blue), would do nicely in your aged care facility's recreation room, and offer a useful – as well as stylish – contrast to the building's other communal spaces.

A report titled 'Design Guidelines for Aged Care Facilities' advises people to not take an avant-garde approach when decorating such buildings either. It's important to give your residents 'familiar' surroundings to help them find their way around. For example, use tiles on the floor in the bathrooms and do everything you can to make your aged care facility 'homely'.

Nursing Times suggests using consistent, highly-visible colours on bathroom doors as well, so that residents are able to locate such rooms easily. Other features you may want to ensure are painted in contrasting hues include:

– Any doors your residents are expected to use. These should be clearly distinguishable from the walls. However, you may want to paint staff-only doors the same colour as the walls, to reduce the chance of residents accidentally walking through them.

– All handrails. You might also like to use yet another colour to indicate where they end, claims Nursing Times.

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