A toolkit for persons with dementia and caregivers: Hack Care

Commentary / 3rd Quarter 2023

A toolkit for persons with dementia and caregivers: Hack Care

September 20, 2023

Among the acute health risks associated with old age is dementia, an umbrella term for diseases that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform daily activities. One in 10 people over the age of 60 in Singapore live with dementia and the number is expected to increase with the aging population.

Ong Ker-Shing, co-founder of Lekker Architects, shared: “Our experience caring for my father taught us that dementia is unfortunately a one-way street at the moment. It is decline. It is inevitable. It is constantly changing. There are no design solutions that are generalised enough to help with all the changes to a person with dementia.”

Lekker Architects in collaboration with design consultancy Lanzavecchia + Wai set out to empower persons with dementia and caregivers by ‘hacking’ their everyday living space: objects, furniture and interiors. The toolkit of ideas is collected in the book titled Hack Care: Tips and Tricks for a Dementia-friendly Home.

RELATED: Design for Aging is Design for All

The book expresses an alleviating, playful spirit in the face of the challenges brought on by the disease. The title is a wordplay on the local phrase ‘heck care’ (meaning ‘don’t care’) and the content is presented as a visual pun on furniture catalogues/assembly instructions. The hacks include remixing readymade furniture for extra reinforcement and functionality; combinations of objects on ‘fidget boards’ for stimulation; organising home environments to balance accessibility with familiarity; and attuning the five senses to the daily rhythm of time to relieve ‘sundown syndrome’.

Many of the tips can be applied to care for older adults in general, and Hack Care proved to fill a great demand from everyday caregivers and healthcare professionals. It received the President*s Design Award (P*DA) 2023 for Design of the Year, with the jury commending the project for “normalising dementia—not as a strictly defeating problem but a prompt to act, adapt, and create a better experience of daily life.”

Lekker wrote, “We are hoping that the P*DA award will bring more awareness for design for older adults and those with cognitive challenges—but more broadly, for inclusive design. This includes a vast array of folks, here and globally, who have traditionally had their needs ignored in favour of a ‘typical’ user or client that, for the most part, has never existed. This is another frontier of design that, we believe, will benefit all of us tremendously.”

[This is an excerpt. Subscribe to the digital edition or hardcopy to read the complete article.]

Read more stories from FuturArc 3Q 2023 Green Awards: Cross-Generational Architecture!


To read the complete article, get your hardcopy at our online shop/newsstands/major bookstores; subscribe to FuturArc or download the FuturArc App to read the issues.