New Resource: ‘Age- and Dementia Friendly Design Considerations for Physical Infrastructure’

Sep 28, 2022

The Massachusetts Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and All Other Dementias created a workgroup with a goal of defining age-and dementia friendly design considerations for physical infrastructure, disseminating those findings and advocating for their inclusion in relevant state funding programs.

That workgroup is pleased to share the culmination of that work in the form of a guide titled Age and Dementia Friendly Design Considerations for Physical Infrastructure, which highlights design considerations supporting people living with dementia and focused on four types of infrastructure:

  • Buildings
  • Public Outdoor Spaces
  • Transportation
  • Housing Developments

The workgroup was chaired by Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) Secretary Elizabeth Chen, co-led by Patty Sullivan from the Massachusetts Councils on Aging and James Fuccione from the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, and supported by Pam MacLeod from EOEA and a group of experts (see Appendix A of the document) from regional planning agencies, healthcare, housing, and architectural design.

The resource promotes commonly accepted physical traits of age and dementia friendly communities focus on design principles that incorporate:

  • Inclusive design that considers many aspects of human diversity affecting a person’s ability to use the environment, such as ability, gender, age, and culture.
  • Easily recognizable design features that are unambiguous and meet people’s expectations in terms of appearance, size, and usability.
  • Design that clearly designates the purpose for which the place is intended, and uses color, contrast, and clear signage to provide clues to orientation and wayfinding.

Thanks to a partnership with MassDOT, some of these considerations were included in a resource library supporting the Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program, which was already offering bonus points for applicants committed to including and supporting older adults in their projects.

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative encourages its partners involved in community planning and design – including housing, transportation, parks, and public space stakeholders – to reference this guide in upcoming projects.