As the Baby Boomers age, the need for facilities catering to them increases. Whether they are in good health or whether they require a certain degree of care, homes for the elderly are increasing in need and in popularity. A critical, yet often overlooked element in designing facilities for those afflicted is the signage and wayfinding in the facility. The wayfinding system can play an important part in making life a little easier for those seniors.
Below are listed some guidelines to consider when designing a wayfinding system for senior facilities; such as Independent Living Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Skilled Nursing Facilities, and Continuous Care Retirement Communities.
For the Visually Impaired
Sign design must follow ADA legislation which provides signage guidelines for those with impaired vision and those confined to wheelchairs. The guidelines mandate when and where braille and raised copy is needed. It also mandates font sizes and the color contrast between the copy and the sign face to ensure maximum legibility for the visually impaired. To assist with the color contrast in designing a sign, ASI created an LRV (Light Reflectance Value) Calculator for our 140 standard colors.
For the handicapped in Wheelchairs
ADA guidelines mandates the height of signs to ensure visibility by those in wheelchairs and also mandates signs on restroom doors designating them as wheelchair accessible rooms. Signs that “talk” may be considered in assisting these patients in navigating a space.
For those Afflicted with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia impairs an individual’s ability to understand different signs in the environment. Designers may consider the use of colors and pictures on the signs to assist Dementia patients in identifying their surroundings. Perhaps a photo of the person on their room door may assist them in finding their own room. Signs that “talk” may also be considered in assisting Dementia patients.
General Sense of Wellbeing
We know for a fact that color has a significant effect on people’s moods. Dark colors are likely to negatively impact the mood of persons in an environment while bright colors are likely to positively effect their feeling of wellbeing. Choosing bright colors for signs (whilst maintaining the appropriate level of contrast) should be a consideration by the designer.
Do not over-sign a senior facility (or any facility for that matter). It creates too much visual “noise” and can result in confusion to the residents, especially in a senior setting.