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What is your vision for redecorating an alzheimers/locked unit?


Any suggestions for redecorating an Alzheimers/locked unit?? Ours is painted the most depressing shade of green with dirty flooring to boot.It always smells and does not feel uplifting in any way, shape or form. The staff would like to make it more welcoming and homey but feel overwhelmed as to where to start. :idea:

Forever Sunshine, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC. Has 7 years experience.

If there are residents who are somewhat in their mind and able to answer.. ask the residents.

Its their home.

The residents are not able to comprehend/ give an opinion which is probably why it is the most neglected area- no one complains except the staff.

casi, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience.

Soft neutral colors. Anything bright would be agitating. Trunk, coat rack with things for sorters to go through. I also like the idea of having some old black and white photos around.

Paint the walls a nice neutral color like light tan or eggshell white, clean the floors, get a local elementary school to color some Thanksgiving pictures (hand turkeys are always a good option), add some fragrant flowers to possibly help with the smell and spruce the place up, voila! I feel like an interior decorator now.


Specializes in chemical dependency detox/psych.

As the daughter of an Alzheimer's patient, I think decorating like a cheerful home would be great (think buttercream yellow with lots of plants, inexpensive prints on the walls). If you are from a rural area, painting "windows" that have farmland scenes looks great (I've also seen pretty-realistic looking wall decals that have such scenes). I would also recommend an aviary, and picture/statues of dogs and cats (so many people miss their pets). If you could get each resident's family in the unit to contribute some family pictures to hang on the wall of a common area, I think that would also make it more home-like for them.

P.S.--these suggestions come from how my mother's locked unit is decorated. It's very homey, and my mom really likes it.


Has 36 years experience.

My MIL has been in 3 places. One of the places had built-in framed areas by each pt's' door, and the families could bring in a photo of their loved, or some special trinkets/knick-knacks that they liked.

Another had the exit door covered with a huge decal of bookshelves - it was a distraction since it no longer looked like a door was there.

Many places have a coatrack with a variety of light weight jackets and coats, maybe some old-fashioned aprons, and sometimes the residents would try them on. A small set of shelves with some stuffed animals or soft dolls is usually welcome, as well.

I agree with soft colors, and some nice framed prints, as well.

Edited by merlee

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

This would be totally budget-dependent, but my stepmother (Alzheimers) was absolutely riveted by the floor-to-ceiling birdcage in our local hospital lobby. Lots of smallish, colorful nesting birds.

BacktotheBeach, ADN, BSN, RN

Has 8 years experience.

I am a first year nursing student, and I just observed the most beautiful AZ unit. All along the walls, beautiful trees, vines, flowers were painted. Occasionally there was a garden gate. They had a really large tree painted and the residents pictures were on the branches, like a family tree. Even the locked exit door was painted/disguised to look like a beautiful stone window overlooking a garden with blue skies, birds, flowers etc. There was much stenciling of vines trailing all over.

Inspirational quotes and sayings were also painted in strategic places.

At each room's door was a locked glassed in frame/memory box for mementos/photos of that resident.

If you had someone talented enough, the cost of paint is all you would really need!

Orange Tree

Specializes in Medical Surgical Orthopedic.

I have been to one with a pretend pet shop (real aquatic life and birds inside), boutique (lots of fancy clothes, hats and jewelry to try on), workshop (you can make things there, looks like a garage kind of), 50's style diner (they actually serve food there), street signs, and even bus stops! It was so cute to see people waiting at the bus stops. They seemed to feel content in their little pretend village. Of course I'm sure this was an outrageously expensive place to live......but, it was very nice!

WOW - I'm totally in awe from your suggestions! :redpinkhe

Just my 2 cents: If you want to repaint, check out the local paint shops, like Sherwin Williams (not Home Depot or Lowes). I know that Sherwin Williams typically have a lot of paint in the back that just aren't the right color for a particular customer but is perfectly fine paint. I used to work in a commercial SW and we had tons of 5 gallon pails that were just a shade off that a contractor couldn't use. We'd either give them away or sell them for like, $5.

Also, I think the black and white photo idea is FANTASTIC! Maybe some sepia ones too...I wouldn't do real flowers or anything (fellow allergy sufferer lol).

Soft colors like blue, with pictures of seascapes / water calm residents (cheerful colors like butter yellow are also nice with lots of painted plants and greenery), keep it as clutter free as possible on the floor as it agitates them when they can't get around (also dangerous, as I'm sure you know). If you have a lot of exit seeking people have a space of black tile in front of the door (they think it is a hole and won't step into it). I like the idea of disguising the door like a book shelf or something else MUCH better though. Cheerful bedspreads (possibly quilts if your staff is honest and won't take them....I had that problem). I had a hallway that had framed posters (approx $40 for poster and a frame bought at a craft store or WalMart type place) of older things / people like Mohammmed Ali, Marilyn Monroe, Pres. Kennedy, The Three Stooges, I Love Lucy, etc. One of my residents who never could hold a conversation with anyone would go up and down the hallway with me and she could name every single one of the people in the posters, also different kinds of animals as the pictures will remind them of pets that they used to haveand trigger many memories. I like the idea of a boutique with big hats and things from the 40's and 50's area (ie: a soda fountain area can easily be added by putting a bar / counter with seats in the dining room and cupboards behind it to store things you will need with a small freezer for ice cream, make cookies somewhere in the area to serve them and they will be able to smell them baking, maybe a popcorn machine. Pipe in music from that era to jog memories (my residents used to love to dance to it and I would join them). I have also seen the frames by the room doors and they had a picture of the resident from when they were in their 20's or 30's because they recognize themself at the earlier age, not the age they are now when they look at it and know it is their "house". Make sure not to forget to decorate the bathrooms so they look like home and not an institution. That could be done very inexpensively as well.

ktwlpn, LPN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Homecare, Hospice.

Make sure you use lots of contrasts-this helps them with perception.The toilets need to stand out in sharp contrast from the wall behind them.Same for the furniture.I work in a facility with two secure units-would you believe they have matched the rocker cushions to the color of the wall? I have lost count of how many residents have fallen while trying to sit down but admin won't listen. I would also make sure to have small "landing strip" type lighting down the sides of the halls and something similar to lead each resident to their bathroom at night.

I like some type of memory box beside each residents room-that benefits staff,too.It's great when you can encourage them to see the person instead of the diagnosis or just the troublesome behavior.

You can spend tons of money decorating a beautiful unit but it will still be a cold and miserable place for the residents if you don't take the time to give your staff additional training in dealing with that population. It can be very difficult to re-train experienced staff-and educate the s/o's...We have been so stuck in our routine in LTC we can't let it go.. We HAVE to bath Mary on Tuesday morning-we MUST drag Fred to lunch in the dining room at noon. Sam has to sit up and take his pills at 8 am.Mom must be made up and coiffed by 9 am-ignore the kicking and screaming. Thankfully lots or progressive LTC's are getting away from that in their Memory units.

Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. I hope we can implement many of them and make our unit something to be proud of. The staff that works there really love the residents and we do try to be flexible - in some ways it is my favorite place ( I work in several units) to be.:nurse: