Dementia is a classification of brain diseases, and the incidence increases with age and affects people’s short-term memory frequently, which consequently decrease the ability to live independently (Larson et al, 2013). 1 in 5 people would catch the disease at the age of 80 and nearly half of people in that condition when they come to 85.
Also, according to World Health Organization (2017) that those diseases cannot be cured so far.
Therefore, what we could do is to improve the quality in their later year of life.
The following reflection is based on the lecture from professor Tim Townshend, who is the expert in Urban design for health.
The environment is inextricably linked to human health, but in recent years it has not received the attention it deserves. The first proposed and environment-focused architect of modernism, Le. Corbusier claimed that the public and green space should be enough to ensure the fresh air and sunshine. That theory formed the original roof garden and many bleaker plazas, which were almost demolished after the 1970s. Then, In the postwar period, the rapid development of industry and the ferocity of technology made many car-dominated cities. That result the loss of human scale and this model related to a lot of problems. For example, air and water pollutions; storm and flooding; global warming. And these issues further affect people’s physical and mental health. Dementia is one of the most serious issues in the contemporary society.
Overview of the transforming history of environment and city, the relationship of the human well-being and the building of the environment could be drawn briefly.
Firstly, we the design environment, then we change People’s way of life, thereby improving people’s health.
As we mentioned before, it is essential to building dementia-friendly environments in regional and national scale to improve the quality of people’s later life. According to the checklist published by Hampshire council (2012), there are three main ways to improve the environment. Firstly, is to design the neighbourhoods for life, which apply on the scale from urban design to street furniture. Secondly, is aimed at healthcare, facilities and indoor design. Thirdly, is the age-friendly building and neighbourhoods design, which produced by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW (Checklists for dementia-friendly environments, 2018). Throughout the three aspects of dementia-friendly design, the building of neighbourhood community has a very prominent value because older people with dementia still need to go out alone, while they severely limited by their diseases. Hence, their range of activities is restricted in the neighbourhood area of walking distance (Designing dementia-friendly outdoor environments, 2004).
The ten areas needed to create a dementia friendly community (SDAA, 2016)
There are several elements of environments for designing with dementia. For instance, Familiar, legible, distinctive, accessible, comfortable (with small and well defined open space with toilets, seat, shelter and lighting) and safe environments are required to ensure their life quality. Those concepts sound blur and faintness, but actually, they could be achieved by small changes. To be specific, training the selected employees to recognize people with dementia and provide assistance in shops, in Bruges (Gillies, 2017).
Overall, it is useful to improve people healthy condition with the design of the environment. Many cities realizing the serious of dementia and begin to make an effort to build to dementia-friendly communities from the infrastructures to services in detail. Although it rarely has any actual dementia-friendly case we could still study from the age-friendly communities.
Checklists for dementia-friendly environments. (2018). [ebook] Hampshire: Hampshire county council. Available at: http://www.innovationsindementia.org.uk/DementiaFriendlyCommunities/Dementia-friendly%20Environmental%20checklists.pdf [Accessed 1 Jan. 2018].
Designing dementia-friendly outdoor environments. (2018). 1st ed. [ebook] Oxford: Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development. Available at: https://www.housinglin.org.uk/_assets/Resources/Housing/Support_materials/Other_reports_and_guidance/Neighbourhoods_for_Life_Findings_Leaflet.pdf [Accessed 21 Dec. 2017].
Gillies, C. (2017). Dementia-friendly cities: how shops and offices can provide support. the guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/mar/08/dementia-friendly-shops-offices-cities-british-gas-hsbc [Accessed 1 Jan. 2018].
Larson, E., Yaffe, K. and Langa, K. (2013). New Insights into the Dementia Epidemic. New England Journal of Medicine, 369(24), pp.2275-2277.
SDAA (2016). The ten areas needed to create a dementia friendly community. [image] Available at: https://www.homeinstead.co.uk/sheffieldsouth/2844.do/sheffield-dementia-action-alliance- [Accessed 20 Dec. 2017].
World Health Organization. (2017). Dementia. [online] Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs362/en/ [Accessed 1 Jan. 2018].