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[…]What would a silver building look like? For starters, it would be well-lit, and offer easy, safe access that doesn’t require pulling open heavy doors or remembering a key. Building materials would minimize noise, overstimulation, distraction and the risk of falls. Doors, rooms and public areas would accommodate walkers, wheelchairs and a person walking arm in arm with a caregiver. There would be sturdy, regularly spaced chairs where people could rest and regroup.
None of this is novel. These and other strategies are already in use in many long-term care facilities and in specialized areas of hospitals, such as geriatric emergency departments or acute care of the elderly units. But they aren’t nearly as prevalent as they should be.
Diana C. Anderson, a resident physician at Columbia University Medical Center who is also a licensed architect (she calls herself a “dochitect”), says that “despite the growing health care specialization in architecture, many spaces in health facilities are ill suited for their actual use.” […]