Interior Design for Nursing Homes

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Blake Elliott
October 16th, 2011
Putnam – HSC 4564
Mini-Paper #2
Interior Design for Retirement Homes
At the Waterford, you'll find the freedom to create the lifestyle you've always wanted. Each morning you'll awake to a colorful palette of possibilities from which to paint your day. Enjoy the quiet, muted tones of solitude in your spacious apartment, knowing friends and an attentive staff are close by. You'll always have a wealth of things to do right at your fingertips keeping you as active as you want to be. The Waterford proudly presents a staff of experienced, detail-oriented professionals at your service. From our executive director to our culinary chef, to our housekeepers and wait staff, you'll find warm and friendly people truly concerned about you. The Waterford offers you flexibility and options so you can paint your days with the colors of life (A Place for Mom, 2002). With an environment that seems so appealing, why is there such a negative stigma placed on retirement homes/communities or nursing homes? The idea of spending our retirement in a nursing home is perceived by our society as the most undesirable of options. Three out of one hundred Americans over the age of 65 suffer from depression (National Institute of Mental Health, 2000). A study done at the University of Rhode Island reported that 11% of the residents in the nursing homes examined were suffering from depression (Brown, Lapane, & Luisi, 2002). Another study done at Columbia University reported that 44.2% of the nursing home residents tested showed some symptom of depression with 14.4% of the residents experiencing serious depression (Teresi, Abrams, Holmes, Ramirez, & Eimicke, 2001). Why is the depression rate among the elderly almost four times greater among those living in nursing homes? It could be the work of chance in that many of the residents in nursing homes already have a mental health problem that has made them unable to provide for themselves. Having prior difficulties could make these residents more susceptible to the normal adjustment problems that come along with relocating to a new living environment. Or perhaps it is because the environments nursing homes create are not specifically geared towards the needs of the elderly. With about 5% of people over 65 living in nursing homes this is a serious problem, whether the resident is healthy or not, that should be demanding more attention (Hoyer, Rybash, & Roodin, 1999). There are many factors that could contribute to depression among the aging including illness, loss of close family members, or financial problems. Unfortunately these are problems that are uncontrollable, but there are things that we can control that may provide a more agreeable environment for those living in nursing homes or retirement communities. Perhaps if we did more to accommodate the aging with an environment that is aesthetically pleasing and functional through color change, lighting, and spatial arrangement, the number of depression diagnoses would decrease among the elderly residing in retirement homes. Through motion pictures and photographs we have some idea of what it might be like to live in a world that is colored in shades of gray. However, it would be much more difficult to imagine a world where there were colors, but they were indistinguishable in many cases and shades of certain colors were nonexistent. It would be similar to wearing glasses with yellow lenses. This is the type of colored world that many people progressively experience after the age of forty caused by a condition called presbyopia. Presbyopia is an age-related illness caused by the hardening of the variable lens, which decreases the eyes' ability to accommodate (Goldstein, 2002). This hardening of the variable lens is caused by the death of cells inside the lens with age. These dead cells cause visual images to be seen as if through a yellow lens. The process occurs so gradually that most people do not notice...
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