When you decorated your home, what factors did you consider? Maybe you put the television in a certain location because of where the wiring outlets were, and the couch naturally faced toward it. In the bedroom, you may have situated your bed in such a way that the morning light would wake you every morning. Even in rooms like the kitchen, you chose a place for every single item, intentionally or not. Perhaps you decided to hang up your copper pots because they look nice, or you arranged your utensils in a certain way because that’s how you’ve always done it.
Designing a house is an entirely different animal on its own. What kind of windows will you use? Will you have a large foyer, or will the door open directly into a certain room? All of these aspects are considered by new homebuyers, especially if they are building the house themselves. But did you know all of these aspects, and more, also go into the commercial design of a Dogwood Forest assisted living community? We take special care and have a scientific reason behind every single design feature we implement, from the flooring to the furniture. Here are just a few examples.
Embracing Natural Lighting
The benefits of natural lighting seem rather obvious, at least on the surface. Fluorescent light bulbs give off a harsh, cold light that can lead to irritability and other health problems — including migraines. Even warm incandescent bulbs aren’t without their faults. Both types of light bulbs flicker and hum, which leads to headaches and other issues. No matter how hard they try, these light sources can’t truly replicate sunlight. In fact, sitting under them all day can make you feel tired and lethargic, and can disrupt your sleep schedule.
That’s where natural lighting comes in. With large windows, we try to get as much sunlight as possible into our common areas, especially the dining rooms. As studies have shown, humans are made to live in sunlight. It gives us vitamin D, which alone has many different health benefits, like bolstering the immune system. In addition, seeing the sunlight streaming in through the windows boosts happiness and energy. In short, the more sunlight we can let in, the happier and healthier our residents are.
Designed to Make Life Easier
If you visit any Dogwood Forest location, there are a few things you’ll immediately notice. One is that it simply doesn’t look like an assisted living community. There is no medical equipment laying around, no harsh white walls and floors. Instead, it looks like one big mansion everyone shares. We’ve learned that the more homey we can make everything feel, even in commercial design, the easier it is to make the transition. There is less of a psychological impact moving here from an old, familiar house.
You’ll also notice things like hardwood floors and certain fabrics on the furniture. This is all designed to be easy to clean in case any accidents happen or something spills. If you sit in one of the chairs, you may notice it feels different than the ones you have at home. Each and every piece of furniture is designed ergonomically to make sitting down and getting back up much easier for our residents. Without proper support, we find that injuries are much more likely to happen.
Solace in the Routine
For many of our residents, especially those in different stages of dementia, gardening can be highly therapeutic. Having a small gardening area where residents can “get their hands dirty” and take care of plants is an easy way to maintain a sense of control in their lives, even if their mind or body isn’t what it used to be. Studies have shown that those who are involved in gardening are often in a better mood and more conversational than those who are not. It’s a routine that promotes serenity and, for many, takes residents back to their old home, if only in their mind.
In a similar way, “life skills stations” allow some of our residents who may be suffering from more advanced dementia to hold on to memories of their lives. For instance, one such station has some tools and equipment commonly used for fishing. By regularly visiting these stations and using items like a reel, it may be easier for residents to remember going out onto the lake with their kids during a summer long ago, a memory which may otherwise be lost.
Science of the Aquarium
One of our favorite elements within Dogwood Forest is our aquarium. It is filled with fish who swim through and around coral reefs, miniature shipwrecks and other items within the tank. Besides being a beautiful centerpiece in the common area, the aquarium also has tangible benefits. In a study conducted by Purdue University, two groups of Alzheimer’s patients were in a nursing facility with aquariums, while a third had paintings of seascapes. Those who were able to interact with an aquarium increased their food intake by nearly 20 percent and required fewer nutritional supplements. They were also noticeably less aggressive.
Even for residents not living with Alzheimer’s, the benefits of an aquarium are obvious. A separate study showed that stress and anxiety levels decreased when a fish tank was present. Though blood pressure levels don’t change much to affect these factors, there is something else about an aquarium that makes its impact. Watching fish glide through the water is both cognitively stimulating and highly relaxing. There’s a reason doctors and dentists often have fish tanks in their waiting rooms: It’s always easier to treat a calm-minded patient than a panicked one!
Every piece of Dogwood Forest’s design is chosen for a reason. Sometimes, colors just go together well to create a cohesive room. More often than not, however, sound scientific investigation has been conducted to make sure every element will be beneficial to our residents. To learn more about Dogwood Forest, including our different assisted living communities around Atlanta, visit us online or contact us today.