Academic journal article Human Ecology

Designing Space for Dementia Patients and Visitors to Enhance Communication

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Designing Space for Dementia Patients and Visitors to Enhance Communication

Article excerpt

Even if the remains of breakfast are still visible at assisted-living facilities when visitors come to call, questions like "So what are they feeding you here?" can frustrate residents who struggle with dementia and short-term memory loss.

Those painfully awkward moments--as well-meaning visitors try to stimulate conversation but get a blank stare in return--might be eased by two faculty members in Design and Environmental Analysis, Franklin Becker and Paul Eshelman, who are developing a new family visit program using a combination of design and digital images intended to make family visits more rewarding for both family members and Alzheimer's residents.

By creating a more private "conversation corner" in which residents can sit with their family members and view and discuss large, high-quality digital images of significant personal meaning for the resident but with less visual and auditory intrusions than typically occur in residential commons areas, Becker and Eshelman are hoping to make it easier to stimulate memories of people, places, and events that become a basis for com for table conversation.

With family members' voluntary consent, residents and their family members will participate in family visits using the specially designed conversation corner. Family members will be asked to help select meaningful images. These will be digitized by the researchers and then used during the visit to stimulate conversation. Prior to the visit, the researchers will discuss with family members ways they might use the digital images to trigger memories and conversation most effectively. …

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