Fabrics Design for Dementia

When designing for people with dementia, it’s crucial to balance style and well-being while avoiding overstimulation. Careful consideration in colour and design choices is necessary, as overly conservative or unimaginative designs may not create the most therapeutic environments. Under-stimulation is as harmful as over-stimulation.

We consulted the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University to establish fabric guidelines for dementia care, ensuring our designs are both practical and supportive.

Key Considerations When Designing for People with Dementia


Lighting is paramount, particularly daylight which is natural and diffuses easily. Ensure that drapes are designed not to overlap the actual window and can be pulled right back to allow as much light in as possible.

Define Edges

Simple things like contrasting piping on the edge of seating, on bedspreads at the edge of the bed or on the edge of draperies where they are pulled to and drawn back, all assist in making life easier and less troublesome.


Alzheimer’s and other dementias can significantly change how people interpret what they see. Boldly defined stripes or designs with a vertical bias may be interpreted as bars or grills.


Swirling or sinuous patterns may cause some queasiness, especially if the person is taking anti-psychotic medication.

Age/Generation Appropriateness

Although often colourful and detailed, retro patterns of the 50’s and 60’s may be appreciated by the elderly.

Small geometrics or flecks

These can look like something has been spilt or needing to be swept up or picked off.


Patterns of flowers and leaves which are to any extent realistic are not helpful because they may be mistaken for the real thing. Abstract or stylised designs of organic items generally work better.

Stirling Rating

Together, Stirling dementia centre and Panaz have conducted a review of Panaz fabrics and have rated their usability in an easy to use matrix which offers guidance.

Innovation Contract Fabrics for Dementia

Choosing the right fabric is crucial for people with dementia. It affects their mood, security, comfort, and overall well-being. The material should reflect their identity, boost self-esteem, and provide a comfortable and recognizable safe space.

We specialize in premium contract fabrics and understand that individuals with dementia have unique preferences and needs. There’s no universal solution, so our design for dementia guidelines focus on highlighting key fabric features rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach.

Guidelines of Features to Consider

The normal ageing process produces sensory losses such as visual impairment. This is of particular concern for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias as they may not be able to understand why and therefore be unable to compensate for it. Good design helps them cope with this loss.

The elderly gradually lose the ability to discriminate between colours and this is exaggerated with dementia, so the use of contrasting colours within design is vital. Contrast seating with carpets, bedspreads and flooring, door handles from doors, light switches from walls, etc. Pale colours together (or a mass of dark shades) are difficult to discern by the visually impaired.

Look to add texture and semi-plains to create interest and, most importantly, select fabrics for seating which clearly contrast in colour and shade with carpet colours to ensure that seating is clearly visible.

Speak to an Expert

If you could do with some advice in wanting to design for dementia patients, get in touch with us today or fill in the form below. No matter your requirements, we’ll do everything we can to assist.