Gardens could boost dementia care

15 July 2014

A new study has found that care homes with garden facilities could provide promising therapeutic benefits for patients suffering from dementia.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, critically reviewed the findings of 17 different pieces of research and found that outdoor spaces can promote relaxation, encourage activity and reduce agitation of patients.

Conducted by a team at the University of Exeter Medical School, the systematic review also found that gardens could help to stimulate memories in dementia patients, while also providing wellbeing opportunities for families and staff.

With around 7.7 million people being diagnosed with dementia every year, this research could have an impact on how facilities are tailored to benefit these patients. Almost half of those living in residential care suffer with dementia or dementia symptoms, a figure that increases to more than three-quarters in nursing homes.

The research is the first of its kind to bring together the findings of a number of studies and highlights various factors that must be overcome to make gardens suitable for dementia patients. These include understanding possible hazards that a garden might represent to residents, and ensuring staff have time to let residents enjoy an outdoor space to its full potential.

The study's lead researcher, Rebecca Whear, said "There is an increasing interest in improving dementia symptoms without the use of drugs. We think that gardens could be benefitting dementia sufferers by providing them with sensory stimulation and an environment that triggers memories. They not only present an opportunity to relax in a calming setting, but also to remember skills and habits that have brought enjoyment in the past."

Posted by Edward Bartel


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