Art Aids Memory of Assisted Living Residents

A Revolution in Senior Living Design Based on New Studies on the Perceptual Differences of Alzheimer’s Patients

Dale Miller, President of Daring by Design, Inc., an interior design firm specializing in senior living design, partners with celebrated artist Oren Sherman to provide the first art to enlighten and aid memory project for Coolidge Palms Assisted Living in Florida.

Residents at the newly-built facility are helped to navigate and orient themselves by viewing the artwork that is both thematic and color coded to various locations.

Miller’s interest in using artwork to aid memory in senior living facilities started when she read an article in Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, titled, “Color Vision in Alzheimer’s Patients: Can We Improve Object Recognition with Color Cues?”

Miller decided to reach out to artist Oren Sherman.  The pair continued to do research, and learned about the New York Museum of Modern Art’s innovative Alzheimer’s Project; “Making Art Accessible for People with Dementia.” It provides the first scientific evidence of overall improvement in mood for a majority of participants as well as intellectual stimulation and positive social interaction.

The team proposed the idea of artwork as a visual cue to the developer of an assisted living project, Gregg Covin, of Covin Development Inc. He shared their enthusiasm and suggested that they proceed and create a sample of their shared vision.

Miller and Sherman worked together to make scenes that were nostalgic, comforting and geared to the period of intact memory for the residents. They envisioned the artwork to be utilized as a tool for orientation, creating graphic images of easily recognizable scenes in a variety of colors at the entry to each apartment.

Miller stated; “Walking through the Coolidge Palms building recently I was stopped by a resident, who said her name was Rose, she had just moved in that morning, and needed help in finding her apartment. We walked and talked about how exciting it was for her to move into a brand new building and the challenges in finding her way around. Pausing for a moment, I saw the nameplate outside a door with the name Rose on it. She turned around, noticed her name and then the artwork outside the apartment. She then told me that she would never again forget where she lived, as her own special artwork contained a vase filled with red roses.”

Art, color and surface are created to present a feeling of location, safety and connection, but also to educate and inspire.

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