The ‘Invisible’ Dialogues | Alzheimer’s Disease by See Tow Jo Wee
This week, I am studying the neighborhood of my selected site in Lavender for the elderly, more specifically for those with Alzheimer’s so that I can identify any missed opportunities to provide a safer, more inclusive living environment for those with Alzheimer’s.
Project Problem Statement:
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) affects an average of 1 in 10 elderly over 60 years old in Singapore. The onset of this disease results in many elderly being unable to live their later years to the fullest, limited by fear and lack of support.
Though efforts have been made to the built environment in recent years to be safer and more empathetic for those with AD, it is not enough. From furniture to the urban surroundings, more has to be done to consider the needs and be inclusive towards those with AD as well as those who are at risk of developing AD.
In order to better scope the problem and decide on what kinds of interventions are needed, a deeper understanding about how people with Alzheimer’s live was needed. In weeks 2 and 3, coupled with online research, 2 different elderly, at different stages of dementia, and their caretakers were interviewed. All this information was culminated in the form of a journey map which traced a general day in the life of someone in their retiree years, how their routine might change due to Alzheimer’s disease and the feelings that come with. This journey map sets the foundation to trace where and when these people with AD struggle the most and why.
In addition to the journey map, a site visit was also conducted to get a better understanding of what the neighborhood has to offer as well as the existing dynamics of the people who stay in the area. Two different site analyses were done.
Site Analysis 1: Programmatic Zones
Using my plot as the center (Block 8), the neighboring areas which would be of interest to an elderly living in the area were marked out according to their key activities: Shopping, Food, Recreation, Residential and Transport. Key features or building names were also marked out as key marker points with red.
Site Analysis 2: Dementia-friendliness
Any potentially helpful facilities for someone with Alzheimer’s were marked out (Go-to Points and Activity Centers). Considering how the safety of elderly with Alzheimer’s on an urban scale, especially in the early stages of dementia, depend on routine and familiarity, the expected degree of familiarity the elderly with AD might have with their neighborhood was also marked out. A darker shade of blue would indicate greater familiarity because it is an area they would go to more often.
Although the immediate vicinity would be the safest to prevent someone with AD from getting lost, that is not the point of the project. In order to enable those with AD to live their lives as they normally would, these lesser taken routes would have to be focused on and made more Alzheimer’s friendly to create a navigation system, and beyond that, a community support system.