Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) most often occurs in childhood, but also affects over 4% of adults aged 18 and over. ADHD among older adults has been attracting interest in the medical world, owing to an increasing number of adults aged 50 and over who are being diagnosed. However, ADHD amongst older people can be difficult to treat because some of the recommended options, such as exercise, can be harder to fulfil, when conditions such as osteoarthritis co-exist. Furthermore, some medications can also exacerbate cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure (opens new window), or even glaucoma.
With this in mind, I believe that optimal home design for later life living, as explained below, is essential to helping older people with ADHD manage their symptoms.
Clear Space is Key
The type of design that best suits individuals with ADHD (opens new window), is one leaning on the minimalistic side. Older people with ADHD should aim to live in a home in which there is enough space to ensure peace and calm. Instead of a variety of different pieces of furniture around the home, they should consider wall-to-wall-style furniture units that leave the middle of the room clear. Many people with ADHD struggle with organisation (opens new window), so a home with less furniture on which to place items can help keep the home tidy.
Create Different Spaces
There should be plenty of opportunity to organise things like bills, hobby material and technology. This can be achieved through the creation of spaces - for instance, a filing cabinet can be used to store bills according to importance of payment, one specific drawer can be used to keep items like smartphones and tablets. Common areas should be designed so that the individual does not have to walk too far or even go up and down flights of steps, to reach them. Kitchen cupboards should be located near the fridge and utensils, so that all items for cooking a meal are near each other, again in one single ‘space’. The same applies in the bathroom. Everything the person needs should be in one compartment or box, so they do not need to leave the bath to get the items from the other side of the room, risking falls or injuries.
Choose Soothing Colours
When it comes to colours, some of the most soothing tones to opt for are blue, cream and warm wood. These colours can help calm and soothe the mind, helping seniors feel less overwhelmed by ADHD symptoms and the general stress of daily life. Colour can also be used to code baskets and containers at home (opens new window). For example, all dirty laundry can be in a red basket, while items to iron in a blue basket.
While there is plenty of advice online on making ADHD easier for children, much research still needs to be carried out on how we can use design to counter many symptoms that cannot be treated with medication or intense physical activity, in the elderly. Uncluttered spaces, strategic organisation and calming colours can do plenty to turn a house into a happy home for older people with ADHD.
Enjoy the Benefits of a Bespoke New Build Home
Families who are building a home from scratch can take advantage of the freedom that a new build can give them. The key to efficient building for a person with ADHD, is compartmentalisation. Open kitchen plans and loft-style studios may be all the rage in home design magazines and may be highly sought after features on the modern real estate scene, but shared spaces may not work particularly well for someone who can easily be distracted.
By keeping the kitchen apart from the living room and bedrooms, each member of the family can work peacefully in their own space. Simplicity and clarity should hold sway, and the use of sloping roofs, columns, stucco and other visual distractions, should be kept to a minimum. For homes overlooking natural landscapes, the use of floor-to-ceiling glass walls (instead of opaque materials) will enable those with ADHD to make the most of the calming effects of verdant nature and natural water features in the surrounding land.