Study reveals how gardens could help dementia care

July 15, 2014

A new study has revealed that gardens in care homes could provide promising therapeutic benefits for patients suffering from dementia.

The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association and by critically reviewing the findings from 17 different pieces of research, has found that outdoor spaces can offer environments that promote relaxation, encourage activity and reduce residents' agitation.

Conducted by a team at the University of Exeter Medical School and supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula (NIHR PenCLAHRC), the systematic review also found that gardens could offer welcome spaces for interactions with visitors, helping to stimulate memories for patients whilst providing wellbeing opportunities for families and staff.

Dementia is a global public health priority, with reports suggesting that 7.7 million new cases are identified each year. Almost half of the elderly people living in residential care have dementia or dementia symptoms, a figure which increases to more than three-quarters in nursing homes.

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 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."

The research represents the first attempt to bring together findings from a range of studies and has also highlighted several factors that must be overcome if gardens are to be useful in the future care of . 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.

Despite its positive findings, the study's authors were keen to point out that this area of research is currently understudied and undervalued by policy makers. Dr Ruth Garside, an expert in evidence synthesis and one of the paper's authors, said:

"There's a lot we don't know about how a garden's design and setting influences its ability to affect wellbeing, yet it's clear that these spaces need to offer a range of ways of interacting – to suit different people's preferences and needs. We want to pursue these answers to ensure that care experiences can be maximised for sufferers of dementia, their carers and families."

Explore further: New survey looks at caring for families of dementia patients

Related Stories

New survey looks at caring for families of dementia patients

April 23, 2014
Placing a family member with dementia in residential care is a difficult decision in a carer's life, which is why a new QUT study is looking to uncover what factors can make the transition easier.

Cognitive impairment common among community and nursing-home resident elderly

April 7, 2014
More than 70% of elderly Medicare beneficiaries experience cognitive impairment or severe dementia near the end-of-life and may need surrogate decision makers for healthcare decisions. Advance care planning for older adults ...

Older people with dementia cared for mostly at home

May 11, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Many elderly people with dementia live and die at home rather than in nursing homes, a new study has found.

Cataract surgery a plus for someone with dementia, study says

July 14, 2014
(HealthDay)—Along with improving vision, cataract surgery may slow mental decline in people with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, a new study suggests.

Dementia sufferers more likely to be diagnosed with urinary or fecal incontinence

August 27, 2013
Patients with a diagnosis of dementia have approximately three times the rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence, and more than four times the rate of fecal incontinence, compared with those without a diagnosis of dementia, ...

Study shows dementia patients benefit from holistic exercise program

May 19, 2014
While dementia patients can often suffer from depression and declining physical and mental ability, exercise has been shown to help improve both their physical and psychological wellbeing. Researchers at Teesside University ...

Recommended for you

Lifestyle changes to stave off Alzheimer's? Hints, no proof

July 20, 2017
There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine key risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases around the world.

Steering an enzyme's 'scissors' shows potential for stopping Alzheimer's disease

July 19, 2017
The old real estate adage about "location, location, location" might also apply to the biochemical genesis of Alzheimer's disease, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Brain scans may change care for some people with memory loss

July 19, 2017
Does it really take an expensive brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer's? Not everybody needs one but new research suggests that for a surprising number of patients whose memory problems are hard to pin down, PET scans may lead ...

Can poor sleep boost odds for Alzheimer's?

July 18, 2017
(HealthDay)— Breathing problems during sleep may signal an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, a trio of studies suggests.

Hearing is believing: Speech may be a clue to mental decline

July 17, 2017
Your speech may, um, help reveal if you're uh ... developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests.

Bacteria found in Alzheimer's brains

July 17, 2017
Researchers in the UK have used DNA sequencing to examine bacteria in post-mortem brains from patients with Alzheimer's disease. Their findings suggest increased bacterial populations and different proportions of specific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.