Dementia Friendly Flooring. What you need to know

It is widely known that people’s vision naturally changes as they age with reduced visual function and performance1.

In residents of aged care facilities, this vital sense is often reduced or severely impaired which can impact on the person’s ability to see where to go, interpret their surrounds and to reach destinations without falling or experiencing discomfort in their environments2.

As older people, particularly those living with dementia, can experience perceptual (such as depth perception) issues, it is suggested to avoid patterns (intertwining, bold, geometric or those that seem to ‘move’) in resident areas as these may appear to be three dimensional barriers and result in falls, sidestepping, veering or reaching for handrails or even disorientation 3,4,5. Similarly, a dark walk-on mat could be perceived as a hole3.
‘Visual cliffing is misinterpretation of changes in colours as differences in depth, elevation or planes’ (p 222) so avoid doorsteps/door sills and colour accents resembling steps, holes or pits3. When there is a real change in elevation such as a step, it is essential to avoid bold patterns so that the height and edge of step can be judged as accurately as possible6.

Flooring in resident areas needs to have consistent (plain) colours, blend with the overall colour schemes and yet contrast with the walls and furniture to support visual interpretation and minimise confusion7,8. As thick carpet was identified to make pushing walkers and wheelchairs more difficult, a low uniform nap with a tight weave is recommended when specifying carpet3. In addition, floors with shiny surfaces are to be avoided as this can cause glare3.

Textures are not to be underestimated with consistency recommended7,9.


The team at de Fiddes Design are proud to demonstrate their expertise in flooring selections in several aged care projects and examples of applications in resident areas are shown above and below.





1.    Nylén P, Favero F, Glimne S, Teär Fahnehjelm K, Eklund J. 2014. Vision, light and aging: a literature overview on older-age workers. Work.  Jan 1:47(3):399-412.

2.    McNair D, Cunningham C, Pollock R and McGuire B. 2000. Light and lighting design for people with dementia.  HammondCare: Sydney.

3.    van Hoof J, Kort HS, van Waarde H, Blom MM. 2010. Environmental interventions and the design of homes for older adults with dementia: an overview. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. May;25           (3):202-32.

4.    Marquardt G, Bueter K, Motzek T. 2014. Impact of the design of the built environment on people with dementia: an evidence-based review. HERD. Fall;8(1):127-57.

5.    Calkins, M.P. 2009. Evidence-based long term care design. Neurorehabilitation, 25(3):145-154.

6.    Wang C and Kuo N. 2006. Zeitgeists and development trends in long-term facility design. Journal of Nursing Research. June 14(2).

7.    Hadjri K, Faith V & McManus M (2012) Designing dementia nursing and residential care homes. Journal of Integrated Care, 20(5), 322-340.

8.    Hadjri K, Rooney C & Faith V (2015) Housing Choices and Care Home Design for People With Dementia. HERD: 8(3), 80-95. 




KnowledgeAmy Bosnar