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Designing dementia-friendly places for ageing Australians

A recent post by the Property Council of Australia on 28 Jun 2016 highlighted how international cities are designing specialist villages for dementia sufferers aimed at comfort and inclusion rather than sterile environments.

As the article pointed out, the number of Australians living with dementia will climb to 900,000 by 2050, and suggests that the retirement living sector must turn its attention to building dementia-friendly communities as stated by Ita Butrose AO OBE, Alzheimer's Australia ambassador.

Buttrose says the sector must focus on creating communities "where people can live lives of meaning, purpose and value – and that help them remain part of the broader community".

As one of the fastest-growing conditions in Australia, dementia currently effects more than 350,000 Australians and we need to think about how these people will be cared for in the most suitable environment.

We need to focus on what people with dementia can do – and to design places around that idea. Spaces for painting classes, music lessons and choirs, dementia-friendly cafés and kitchens, and spaces where people can remain active," she says.

"It's about creating places to help people make best use of the skills and abilities that they have, and so they can lead lives of variety and stimulation, rather than sitting in front of a television all day."

Some international examples include Switzerland, where a dementia care facility has been deliberately designed to recreate the atmosphere of the 1950s – the heyday of many of the village's residents.

Read more on this fascinating issue in property design at the Property Council of Australia.

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