June 2014

Professor Alison Bowes, Dr Louise McCabe, Dr Alison Dawson and Dr Corinne Greasley-Adams, University of Stirling

The design of homes and living spaces can be modified to enable people with dementia and sight loss to enjoy a better quality of life and increase independence. Researchers have put together guidelines, which prioritise the person and their individual needs, to creating enabling environments that are sensitive to the needs of people with sight loss who also have dementia.

Key facts: Design of homes and living spaces

  • One in five people in the UK aged over 75 are living with sight loss, rising to half of all people aged over 90. Some of those same people will be among the estimated one in 14 people aged over 65 and one in six people aged over 80 in the UK who have a form of dementia.
  • Impaired sight may lead to visual mistakes, misperceptions and misidentifications. The consequences of these can be more serious for people with dementia who may not realise or remember that they have made a visual mistake or be able to rationalise what they believe they are seeing.
  • Design guidance has previously been separately produced for people with dementia and people with sight loss. The review found that the research on design for people with sight loss almost always emphasised promoting independence and choice. The literature on design for people with dementia often focussed on control of behaviours, activities and locations.
  • The guidelines offer evidence-based information and recommendations about design for people with sight loss and dementia in the seven key topics of colour and contrast; lighting; fixtures and fittings; kitchens; bathrooms; entrances and exits; and gardens bad outdoor spaces.

How can this research help?

The research findings offer guidelines on ways in which environments can be modified to enable people with dementia and sight loss to enjoy better quality of life. They also provide advice on some challenges presented when optimising home environments.

Links: 

Design Guide: Good Practice in the Design of Homes and Living Spaces for People with Dementia and Sight Loss – PDF version and Word version

Research Findings: Good Practice in the Design of Homes and Living Spaces for People with Dementia and Sight Loss – PDF version and Word version