The role of culture in designing environments for people with dementia: A study of Russian Jewish immigrants

Kristen Day, Uriel Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cultural heritage is an essential enduring aspect of self-identity for older adults, including those with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Culture may serve as a therapeutic barrier or as a therapeutic resource in caring for this population. Cultural heritage is currently underused as a therapeutic resource in environments for people with dementia and for other older adults. Accommodation of cultural heritage in these settings requires sensitive spatial organization and appointment of the physical environment to support culturally based activities and rituals. This article outlines key aspects of culture to be considered in designing for people with dementia including cultural group history and life experiences, assets, beliefs and values, caregiving practices, and activities and preferences. This framework for considering culture is applied to the design of hypothetical environments for older Russian Jewish immigrants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in West Hollywood, California.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-399
Number of pages39
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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