In Germany around 1.5 million people currently have dementia. This figure increases by around 300 000 patients each year. Apart from symptoms such as forgetfulness or speech disorders, patients also lose their orientation ability. For people with this disease to retain their independence, it is particularly important to provide them with orientation aids in the form of clear structures and an environment that is easy for them to perceive. Based on this knowledge, HEWI has developed a washbasin especially for dementia patients. The function is signalled by a permanently attached coloured marking.
On the one hand this facilitates the dementia sufferer's perception of the washbasin within the room and on other the other hand it helps them to understand how to use it. This promotes functional independence in the bathroom. The markings are red. Qualitative studies show that the colour read is most easily perceived by dementia sufferers. Red is also the most easily registered colour for people with age-related impaired vision or inoperable eye diseases, for example, macular degeneration. The dementia washbasin is therefore also suitable for people whose vision decreases with age.
In the interview, architect Dr. Birgit Dietz explains the background thoughts in the development of the age and dementia-sensitive washbasin, which she designed together with HEWI. She is a visiting lecturer in the Hospital and Health Sector Building department of Munich's Technical University and has her own architectural firm in Bamberg.
A person orientates themselves to 80 percent using their eyes. As people grow older their vision reduces progressively. Protein deposits on the lens (opacity) restrict the perception of colours; especially colour contrast within the range of blue and green tonality is no longer perceivable in a differentiated way if the lens is affected by opacity. Changes to the pupil restrict depth of focus control, in addition, more light is needed to perceive colours. Visual field restrictions make it difficult to register spatial impression.
A highly contrasting, coloured design facilitates perception and therefore enables people with age-related impaired vision to orientate themselves. The dementia washbasin and the System 800 K sanitary accessories and accessibility products follow these design requirements.
The washbasin and the mirror above it are usually within the field of view on entering the bathroom. This is problematic for severe dementia sufferers, as they can no longer recognise themselves in the mirror and therefore conclude that the sanitary room is already occupied. In this case it is helpful to change the layout so that the WC is seen first on opening the door.