Anglican Care has partnered with Newcastle University to participate in a landmark study “Horticulture for people with dementia study” investigating whether gardening is the beneficial to people with dementia.
Recent statistics from Alzheimer’s Australia show that there are more than 353,800 Australians currently living with dementia, with that number expected to increase to over 400,000 over the next five years.
The study involves a small group of consumers and their carers from Anglican Care’s East Lake Macquarie Dementia Service and their caregivers. Researchers from the University of Newcastle, in association with Twentyman Horticulture, are testing the effectiveness of a horticultural program for people with dementia in reducing unmet needs, improving their quality of life, reducing the frequency of behavioural symptoms and reducing frailty.
“Over the course of two months, participants are attending two-hour gardening sessions twice a week, working on dementia-friendly gardening plots, carrying out planting and cultivating,” said Chris Giles, General Manager of Community Care Services at Anglican Care. “A study period of two months was selected to ensure that there was adequate time for people with dementia to develop skills and confidence, and see the results of their work in the garden.
We continue to see evidence of a relaxation response to being in nature for people with Dementia, which is so important for people with dementia because they often experience anxiety and agitation. Anglican Care is very interested to see the final results of the study to ascertain exactly how successful it has been with the participants in showing real and lasting benefits,” said Chris.
A control group, not involved in the same gardening work, is ensuring the study can chart the benefits of horticulture for people with dementia.
Recent research indicates that physical and visual access to nature can have the following positive impacts in individuals with dementia:
- Helps people recover from illness quicker
- Reduces stress and lowers blood pressure
- Helps a person maintain their sleep / wake rhythms
- Aids in the natural absorption of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight for brief periods of time, which is important for maintaining strong bones.
We look forward to sharing the results of this study.