Healing through Design: The Psychological Effects of Design on the Elderly

DeMello, Kellene
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2016]
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The purpose of this dissertation is to document and explore how the built environment impacts elderly individuals dealing with various forms of dementia. The human population within the United States is not only increasing, but the number of those over the age of 65 is also increasing. As U.S. citizens age, the number of individuals with dementia will increase accordingly, which will increase the demand for senior care facilities that focus on treating individuals with dementia-related diseases. When continuing to live at home or with loved ones is no longer an option, family members will look for an appropriate senior care facility where their loved one can live and receive healthcare. Given the medical realities involved in the aging process, design elements must be created in a way that allow residents to physically, psychologically, and emotionally flourish. However, creating such a senior care facility that addresses all of these needs for residents on an individual basis can be challenging when the range and ability of each individual can vary greatly. This dissertation proposes to investigate current senior care facilities from three different locations around the world and three locations on the island of O’ahu to determine the ideal senior care residential design for a modern facility in Hawai’i. This dissertation will also be drawing from growing research on environmental psychology, nature’s effect on health, and contemporary advances in senior care for residents with dementia. Native Hawaiians have a strong connection to and respect for the land along with their ancestral lineage as this element, too, connects each individual to past generations and the places upon which Hawaiians lived and thrived for centuries. These cultural elements are deeply embedded in an understanding of nature’s healing powers and the importance of family and one’s larger familial community. This dissertation will show how modern conceptualizations of the therapeutic qualities of nature, specifically connected to traditional Hawaiian cultural practice, and the need for human connections within the growing aging population can be interwoven to create a unique architectural design solution for a senior care facility focused on care for individuals dealing with dementia.
D.Arch. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Environmental Psychology, Elderly, Biophilic
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Architecture (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Architecture
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