Disability-friendly housing development

Disability-friendly housing development

Dementia is a disability that will make Germany struggling in the foreseeable future. It is estimated that around three million people with dementia will live in Germany by 2050 (Link: PDF). To enable these people to live a normal life, the apartment must be made accessible.

When it comes to disability, many people imagine a wheelchair user. In the future, consumers will have to think about the term disability for the older generation. Millions of old people will need help.

This help requires rethinking and changing society. That people are getting older, has been known for years. But getting old brings many challenges - one of them is dementia. Since not every patient can be brought to a home, it needs to be reconstructed at home.

Information on dementia

Dementia is a neurological condition in which people lose cognitive and progressive abilities. In later stages, one loses the ability to deal with everyday life and, finally, a loss of personality.

Dementia basically distinguishes between two stages:

  1. Primary dementia : Independent disease, which includes Alzheimer's.
  2. Secondary dementia : The result of another disease, Parkinson's for example.

Dementia-induced restrictions require adapted living space so that people with disabilities can continue to live at home. A large part of the dementia patients lives at home and is cared for by relatives. However, care without barrier-free housing is problematic.

Statistics on the topic

Forecast for the development of long-term care worldwide in the period from 2010 to 2050

Year Total population (in millions) People in need of care ( in millions) Prevalence of long-term care (percentage) Long-term care dependency compared to 2000 (in percent)
2010 6,833 350 5.1 20
2030 8,286 488 5,9 68
2050 9,337 614 6,6 110

Source: Alzheimer's Disease International (Worldwide)

When your own home becomes an obstacle

Your own home is a landmark and a reminder to many people. Here they grew up, experienced beautiful moments and shared with other people. Extracting from one's own home to be cared for in a home deprives dementia patients of their usual familiarity.

The withdrawal of intimacy is especially great in people with dementia. Dementia is equal to disorientation. Consequently, it is not a suitable solution to deprive this group of their usual habitat, because it is unsuitable for them. Instead, relatives have to adjust the apartment accordingly.

The adaptation of the apartment ranges from simple assistance to major renovations. Simple measures can be, for example, the signage of the apartment, if the nursing case already suffers from disorientation. Seton has a large selection of pictograms and stainless steel signs that are suitable for this purpose. Relatives can use the signs to signal to a patient with dementia where there are stairs, which room is behind a door and draw attention to danger.

One of the more complex measures is, for example, the conversion of the wet room into a barrier-free bathroom. It is equipped with handholds, modern lighting and a floor covering on which the patient can not slip on.

The classic living problems of dementia patients

Dementia patients have special requirements for their living space. They can pose a danger to themselves or to other people, usually unconsciously. Dangers can come from detergents, poisonous plants or drugs that are confused and inadvertently consumed. Lower temperature sensation can cause dementia patients to burn while bathing. Untrimmed faucets or forgotten candles can cause flooding or house fires.

Away from these problems, people with dementia suffer from the classic clinical picture of the elderly: steps and thresholds are an obstacle for them, and so are stairs. Glass doors can be dangerous as this group can not properly sense them. On the other hand, dementia patients take patterned or reflective flooring as a hole or obstacle. Striking patterns and wallpaper are often responsible for anxiety.

Dementia patients can unlearn simple skills depending on the extent of their illness. Even the operation of the toilet flushing - a simple task for a healthy person - becomes a problem. Furthermore, dementia patients often suffer from orientation disorders, so they can no longer find their way in their actually familiar apartment. This feeling is compounded by poor lighting, lack of contrasts, and locked doors.

Housing adjustment for people with dementia

The big challenge of accommodating people with dementia is the fact that it has to be as inconspicuous as possible. As already mentioned, these people already have problems recognizing their familiar environment. The sudden change in this environment would increase their disorientation. For this reason: Familiar objects must be preserved.

Basically, the adaptation of the living space should bring the following benefits to the dementia sufferer:

  • perceive autonomy
  • promote independence
  • receive quality of life
  • promote individual preferences
  • Reduce nursing effort

Since dementia, its causes and consequences can be very different, accommodation needs to be individualized. Furthermore, there are large differences between the symptoms of an Alzheimer's patient and a person suffering from vascular dementia. Nevertheless, there are some similarities: dementia patients lack the ability to assess themselves and recognize dangers in time.

Both the mobility and the urge to move may develop differently in dementia patients. For this reason, the following needs must be taken into account:

  • Movement room : Should be sufficiently available, for example in the garden.
  • Travel trends : The exit should be secured without restricting individual freedom.
  • Structures : Clear colors and contours define boundaries and help with orientation.
  • Color Selection : Warm, bright colors prevent sensory overload. Yellow tones convey cheerfulness, green, blue and violet have a calming effect.
  • Markings : As already mentioned, the living space should be marked with signs. This is especially true for levels and other potential hazards.

Optimizing living space with these clues allows dementia patients to lead a life of dignity. At the same time, the adjustments also make it easier for the supervisors to do their job. Finally, both sides benefit from housing optimization.

Funding for Accessibility Measures

Measures to create a barrier-free housing for people with dementia can certainly entail some costs. They do not have to deal with those affected on their own. Federal, state and local governments offer numerous subsidies for such projects.


Dementia patients need adapted living space to lead a largely normal life and to facilitate the work of their caregivers. These optimizations are associated with a certain amount of work, but in the end, it pays off both for the patient and his caregivers.

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