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Gardens Help Treat Dementia Symptoms, Study

Update Date: Jul 15, 2014 04:09 PM EDT
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Gardens could help relieve some symptoms of dementia, according to a new study.

Researchers said the latest findings suggest that having green spaces in care homes could provide promising therapeutic benefits for patients suffering neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers found that green outdoor spaces help promote relaxation and activity and reduces agitation in care home residents.

"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," lead researcher Rebecca Whear of 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), said in a news release.

Researchers said the latest study is the first to combine findings from a range of other studies that have also revealed how gardens can help dementia patients.

Researchers said that the link between gardens and dementia therapy is currently understudied and undervalued by policy makers.

"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," co-researcher Dr Ruth Garside, an expert in evidence synthesis, said in a statement.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

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