The SENSE-GARDEN project aims at creating garden-like spaces, virtual and automatically adaptable to personal memories. Spaces that create awareness in older people with dementia by providing stimuli to the different senses, such as sight, touch, hearing, balance and smell, leading to a re-connection with the reality around.
People with dementia (PWD) progressively disconnect from the world; they experience loss of function, especially memory, eventually affecting their verbal communication.
Language loss is a major factor for disconnecting from the close ones such as family and friends. This progress is exacerbated by the lack of external stimuli, which happens due to reduced activity and apathy in general. This is especially the case when the person enters an unfamiliar environment such as a care or nursing home. After some weeks in the new and alien place, it is common that the person reduces the interaction with others and turns increasingly inwards.
This project will create a mixture of natural and technological environments which are automatically adaptable to the individual memories of the user. These are self-contained spaces or "SENSE-GARDENS" with surround music, video and photos; synchronization of media to combine images for example of mountains together with singing birds; and smells dispersed with a scent delivery system. This creates an immersive space automatically adjusted to each visitor, providing a connection to the more active areas of the memory.
The caregiver acts as a facilitator, having a major role in the process. The SENSE-GARDEN, with the help of the caregiver, aims at encouraging PWD to exercise at both the mental and physical level, taking them back into places they feel connected to. They can for example cycle or walk in a well-known space and feel like they're going home. This will support their identity: a state of being or sense of self.
Quantitative success criteria:
- Improvements in measurements of Activities of Daily Living (ADL) using:
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale (IADL)
PASE (physical activity scale for the elderly)
- Better outcomes in levels of dehydration and increase in medication adherence (compliance level).
Qualitative success criteria:
- Improved Quality of Life: measured with the WHOQOL-Old
- Improved environmental conditions of older adults: measured with the relevant subscale of WHOQOL-Bref
- Reduction in depressive symptoms and loneliness: assessed with GDS-15 scale and Rasch-Type Loneliness Scale
- Relieve from the feelings related to the care burden: measured with the Family Burden Interview
- Increase in feeling of social presence: measurements with IPO SocialPresence Questionnaire by De Greef