Elizabeth Brawley was set to pursue her fortune as an interior designer for the rich and famous.Then her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and confined to a nursing home. That was 20 years ago, and her life and work since then has taken a radically different course.
What Brawley saw, in a mid-80’s nursing home, were aging adults with little chance to get outside, often staring at the same painting on the wall, the same view through a window or the television. Since then, she has devoted her professional life to “designing for Alzheimer’s” — everything from handrails and chairs to lights and entire rooms that fit the needs of adults with dementia, a fatal condition most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s.
Her most recent project is the American Landscape Society of America Alzheimer’s Garden Project — a series of nine gardens designed to accommodate those with Alzheimer’s.
“We know that just getting outside is good for you. For Alzheimer’s patients it can help reduce anxiety, improve sleep patterns and give the caregiver a break,” says Jack Carman, a landscape architect who is Brawley’s partner in the garden project.
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