Research at Johns Hopkins Medical School indicates that our brains come complete with global positioning systems (GPS); these findings make it clearer why Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline make it hard for some people to find their way through designed environments. The Johns Hopkins team “found that as a rat travels randomly through the box without knowing where it needs to go, different combinations of place cells fire at each location along its path. The same set of cells fires every time the rat travels the same spot.
A study by researchers from Georgia Tech and the University of Toronto indicates that people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often seen as a precursor to Alxheimer’s disease, may benefit from a less visually complex environment.
Healthcare environments—long-term-care homes, therapist offices, children's waiting rooms, labor and delivery rooms, neo-natal units, and new hospitals—continue to be carefully researched.
Simpson reviews research related to the design of environments for people with dementia, particularly elderly dementia sufferers.
Researchers at Newcastle General Hospital have determined that lotions containing an essential oil from lemon balm may help reduce agitation and improve quality of life for dementia patients.
Zeisel has extensively researched the social and physical environments in which Alzheimer’s patients should live.
When the circadian rhythms of demented elderly people are disrupted there can be serious ramifications.
Being exposed to bright light at specific points during the day increases the length of time that people with dementia remain asleep at night.
More often than not, the outdoor environment of a senior ‘retirement’ community is ignored and people focus on the attributes of a building's interior. However, the activities that can be offered on the outside of a building are almost limitless, constrained only by the imagination, and not by a person's age.
There is a wealth of new information on the effects of light on health and implications for practical lighting design.