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2021 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant (AARG)

Development of a Valid Spatial Environment Assessment tooL (SEAL) for Long-Term Care Facilities

How can the design of long-term care communities impact the health and well-being of residents with dementia?

Farhana Ferdous, Ph.D.
Howard University
Washington, DC - United States


Research shows that social interaction can promote the health and well-being of people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, social distancing guidelines increased the risk of social isolation for many such individuals. Studies have also found that people with dementia who reside in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) are especially vulnerable to both social isolation and transmission of COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases. These increased risks may be due, in part, to the design of spaces in LTCF buildings and campuses. 

Research Plan

Dr. Farhana Ferdous and colleagues will conduct a study examining how spatial design in LTCFs impacts social connectedness and disease transmission risk for older residents with dementia. They will compare spatial layouts from six (6) residential communities in Maryland. The researchers will evaluate how well each environment promotes social- and health-related factors; these include access to nature and ventilation. They will then use the results to develop an easy-to-use mobile app called the Spatial Environment Assessment tooL (SEAL), which can help to “score” the overall quality of an LTCF layout. 


Dr. Ferdous’s project will offer novel insights into how long-term care communities can impact the well-being of residents in the post-COVID-19 era.

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