The living room designs support many activities, including conversation, reading, and viewing television. Locate luminaires near places where reading or other visually demanding tasks will be done. Use table or floor lamps, which can be relocated as the furniture arrangement changes. For watching television, use low-level ambient lighting.
Locate the television so that the images of light sources, including windows, are not reflected from the television screen into the eyes of the viewer. For greater viewing comfort, avoid windows or bright lamps and luminaires on the wall directly behind the television. Switch lamps separately in a living room with a television, or use dimmers to reduce ambient light when there are no other simultaneous visual tasks such as reading.
Living rooms may also have artwork on the walls. Avoid direct sunlight on paintings, prints, and drawings to reduce fading. To highlight artwork, use accent lighting or wall washing techmques. Position the lamp to avoid reflected glare, especially for shiny surfaces or glass- covered artworks.
Locate low-wattage lamps close to the artwork to save energy while maintaining illumination; however, do not locate them so close that they would discolor or burn the artwork. See the Accent technique for more information. To reveal texture and form on sculptures, try lighting one side of the form more than the other to create shadows. Switch the artwork luminaires separately to avoid long exposure to light on sensitive artwork.
Plants have special lighting requirements that can be met economically and efficiently in the home. A simple system of linear fluorescent lamps, positionable luminaires, and a timer can be integrated into shelving, display cabinets, or free-standing benches. Consult a lamp catalog or a garden center for guidance on lamp selection.
Living Rooms and Social Spaces
If designed correctly, living rooms and other types of social spaces have the potential to be the heart of the care community and increase residents’ quality of life through socialization.
The hierarchy of public to private spaces within a building appears to be a key factor in helping residents with dementia to feel comfortable and congregate more easily. Avoid inappropriate adjacencies, such as bedrooms opening directly off living rooms, which may confuse residents and cause them to become frustrated or act inappropriately. Place social common spaces both near resident bedrooms and centrally within the care community to promote social interaction, variety, and physical activity.
Informal lounges that are located closer to bedrooms increase the number of residents who will seek interaction. Social spaces closest to residents’ bedrooms tend to be used for informal socializing more than those located farther away. Residents may be willing to walk farther to access spaces used for specific or novel activities. The location of common spaces in proximity to other key destinations allows residents to walk through the space and view the existing social context without having to make a commitment to socialize.
Residents may experience a higher quality of life and engage in more active behavior when the layout includes numerous public, semiprivate, and private spaces. Designs that create a distinctive boundary between public (e.g., living room) and private spaces (e.g., resident bedrooms) may contribute to residents References in this paper are based on a confidence rating scale.
Chapman and Carder’s study of longterm care facilities revealed that the most commonly desired location for social visits from families was a semipublic space from which activities in public spaces could be viewed, but that allowed a partial withdrawal from the activity. Although public spaces served as common meeting spaces, this was not necessarily by choice, but rather by circumstance. Family visitors prefer social spaces that offer a balance between social interaction and seclusion. Designs that provide for variety and flexibility might best represent this preference.