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Singapore murals help people with dementia find their way

Singapore's large public housing estates β€” known as HDB blocks β€” can be disorienting even for people without memory loss. To help those suffering from dementia find their way, the Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA) created murals on the walls of ground floor spaces in a block in the Kebun Baru district.

The project uses images chosen by neighborhood residents with dementia. All are of familiar, old-fashioned food items, including a red tortoise cake, satay, a kopi cup and White Rabbit candy. (More and better images on news site Mothership.)

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Don’t think of disability as an individual problem. It's an identity that one in five people worldwide share, and that will only increase as populations age. As the number of people with minor and major disabilities grows, the demand for accessible design will skyrocket. Need more inspiration? Read our (free!) briefing on OMNIBILITY, all about accessibility as the new social justice frontier.

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Using murals is part of an ADA pilot on dementia-inclusive design efforts. The primary aim might be to aid those with spatial disorientation and declining wayfinding, but like any good example of universal design, the symbols don't just benefit people with Alzheimer's. Children might find them useful, or people with dyscalculia. And as a Singapore resident posted on Instagram: "I walk past the 257-258 almost everyday and I thought it was only for decorations!"

Branding is all about visual cues. What can you add or adapt to create a supportive environment in the spaces your organization designs? Not just for the estimated 50 million people worldwide with dementia, but for everyone who might appreciate some non-verbal orientation.


Related: IKEA-style catalog of DIY hacks to create a dementia-friendly home β€” An AI avatar designed to teach professional caregivers how to talk to people with dementia