Interior Design for Dementia Care

Designing for Neurodiversity is Essential

Ryan Tirrell, Interior Designer | June 2022

On April 2nd – 5th members of our Senior Living team Anne Ketterer and Ryan Tirrell attended Environments for Aging in Milwaukee, WI. Environments for Aging is a Annual conference that brings together professionals to explore strategies and ideas for creating spaces that best support the needs of the aging population. Ryan Tirrell, Interior Designer shares his key takeaways from the conference.

“We are all wired differently. Human history, culture and development over the centuries have always benefited by experimental thinking and a variety of ideas by unique individuals. For many decades humans have been designing buildings that largely support one kind of behavior or another, limiting the personal interaction with the built environment to a common experience. By the end of the Environments for Aging conference session: Dementia Care Workshop: Designing Dementia Capable Environments by Sharon Host I had my ah-ha moment. There is one common goal in designing for people; designing space and routes for people to succeed and find fulfillment no matter the ability. Once we realize that as Architects and Designers, we are creating spaces with this goal in mind for all age groups and building types – from birth to death – we can help lead the way in removing stigmas for differently abled individuals.

Individuals interact with the built environment from the time they are born to the time the leave this world. As we move deeper into the 21st century we’ve come across leading concepts and trends in Architecture and Design. In education and workplace are the integration of autonomy. Providing choices that inform how you spend your day as you move through your education, and career. Students are becoming more independent and taking initiative and control in their learning. Hands on projects, flexible learning environments, and access to technology is changing pedagogy for future generations. In the workplace the goal has been to create spaces that help your employees perform at their best.  To do so, spaces need to allow for personal focus time, collaborative time with colleagues, and places for respite and serendipitous discussion and socialization.  Designers seek opportunities to provide a variety of spaces with natural light and integrated wellness concepts at their core. These design concepts help to support neurodiversity in the general population and make people feel more comfortable in the spaces they’re in.

I cannot think of a population that is more directly and immediately affected by neurodiversity than those individuals living with dementia. Each individual living with dementia is different, and has a severe impact on how one moves throughout their day in relation to the spaces they are in. By incorporating designs that support a neurodiverse population at an early age in educational spaces, and as one ages in the workplace help us all retraining our thinking around ableness and remove stigmas of what people can or cannot accomplish based on neurological differences. There is always an avenue for someone to succeed if we keep a common goal of designing for variety, designing for individuals, designing for people.”

About Ryan Tirrell

Ryan Tirrell, ALLIED ASID

603.622.5450 Extension 133 |
Ryan is an Interior Designer dedicated to producing high quality work. He is skilled at transforming spaces through color and texture to create the best environment for staff and clients. Ryan is an integral part of the Senior Living team, and works closely with the project owner to come up with strategies and solutions that have the highest impact for all involved.