Deck and Pergola Tips for Aged Care Facilities in Newcastle Lake Macquarie13 May 2020
A well-designed outdoor space can do wonders for seniors and those with Alzheimer’s disease. Aged care facilities has been well founded in most cities including Newcastle Lake Macquarie. Facilities such as independent living centres, skilled nursing homes, dementia or memory care units, and hospice facilities have traditionally included some form of outdoor space.
The keys and often the greatest challenges to successful aging are to remain physically active and socially engaged, and to retain a sense of self. There are many measureable health outcomes for seniors and the outdoors. Even a short stay in a deck or pergola can lower blood pressure, improve vitamin D absorption, improve stability, and help with better sleep patterns.
Boredom can be remedied with sensory stimulation and interaction with nature. Nature can aid the feeling of helplessness with providing a space for temporary escape (actual or visual), and the feeling of loneliness can be decreased in a garden that provides multiple places for socialisation. Below are deck and pergola tips for aged care facilities in Newcastle Lake Macquarie.
The entrance/exit to an outdoor space—the threshold—is perhaps the most important factor to consider when designing an outdoor space for the elderly, and this largely comes down to one single detail: the door. Doorways are high on the list of residential complaints. Often they’re hard to open, or locked. They don’t have windows and therefore inhibit visitors from viewing the garden (…what’s the weather like?). Perhaps the door has a lip that makes it difficult for seniors in wheelchairs to cross the threshold on their own.
Another factor involving the threshold is the comfort (or perceived comfort) when entering or exiting the garden. Creating a transition or “comfort zone” between the indoor and outdoor space is key. Aging eyes have difficulty adjusting from indoor light to outdoor sunlight. Providing shade at the entrance/exit in the form of an awning or patio will increase the transitional comfort.
This brings us to the next factor: plant material. I didn’t mention a pergola with draping vines as a possibility for the transition space. That’s because it’s a detail that is strongly discouraged in outdoor design for seniors. A pergola or draped plant material creates patterned shadows on the ground. This is referred to as “visual coiffing” in design. Seniors react to changes in paving colour, or deep shadows on a path as if they were a change in depth. This may lead to stumbles, fear, and discomfort. Simply avoiding structures such as arbours or trellises will alleviate this issue.
Plant selection for the garden is fairly straightforward. Use a variety of trees, shrubs, flowers, and vines and place them where they can be touched and smelled. Aging eyes can see highly saturated colours—such as oranges, reds, and yellows—more easily than blues, purples, and greens. Also, certain plant material such as herbs and traditional shrubs (hydrangeas, roses, etc.) help to stimulate memory as they often bring deep-rooted and cherished memories to mind for those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Colour choices are not just important when it comes to plant material, they’re also important for paving, our third factor. Since aging eyes have trouble with glare, use non-glare paving surfaces such as tinted concrete. Other satisfactory surfaces include rubberized asphalt and stabilised decomposed granite.
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