Dementia and the environment
Before we talk about using murals to create a dementia friendly environment it is important to understand the effects the environment can have.
Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It includes the loss of cognitive functioning, thinking, remembering, learning, and reasoning and behavioural abilities to the extent that it interferes with a person’s life and activities. If you are in an environment that does not support these problems, a person living with dementia will lose their independence, confidence, and dignity.
Evidence based research
The best environment for a person with dementia is one that helps them to be happy and independent as possible. Below is just some of the evidence to support this:
- According to research carried out by the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC), a good dementia friendly environment can help to reduce falls by 70 per cent, agitation by 60 per cent and incontinence by 50 per cent.
- 90% of distressed/challenging behaviours caused by the environment. (Bawley E-designing for Alzheimer’s disease strategies for creating better care environments)
- 79% of a person’s time in care is spent doing nothing.
- Academic research into the benefits of exercise from Bob Laventure, Loughborough University shows positive changes over 3 stages.
- Immediate changes – social interaction, a sense of achievement, enjoyment, contentment, increase intake of food and drink.
- 3-6 months – improved sleep patterns, participation in daily activities, improved strength, and endurance.
- Long term changes – reduced anxiety, improved mood, and improved cognitive abilities.
Using Murals to create a dementia friendly environment.
Murals should add something positive to the environment, have a purpose and bring measurable benefits. They should be used as destination points. Somewhere that gives a person the choice of what to do, where they go and who they spend time with.
Dementia murals create a dementia friendly environment by:
- keeping minds active
- adding appropriate levels of stimulation
- giving individual’s options and the opportunity to engage in ways previously unavailable
Whatsmore, the mural itself is only one of the tools that should be used. It is equally important that the right furniture and accessories are also provided.
A prime example would be to use a coffee shop to create a dementia friendly environment. The mural gives residents a strong clue about the purpose of the destination. However, there must at least be tables and chairs set out as well as food and drink. A post office without a post box would make no sense. Adding a post box encourages residents to write cards and letters and then of course to post them.
People who are given choices can be more independent. They have a sense of purpose. Furthermore we all need and experience a sense of achievement when arriving at a destination without support.
In conclusion the increased levels of exercise can bring a range of benefits to such as:
- improved strength and stamina
- increased appetite
- better sleep patterns
For more information on how to use murals to create a dementia friendly environment download our guide here. Alternatively, if you would like to request a free dementia visit to discuss your current challenges, and project plans, Complete the form here and we will get back to you with a suitable date.