Getting out and about in nature is good for us. It helps us stay healthy and active, stimulates our brains, keeps us in contact with other people, and brings pleasure and joy to our lives.
Older people living with cognitive impairment, which might include a dementia diagnosis, stroke, Alzheimer’s or Parkinsons disease, as well as people with young-onset dementia, say that nature helps them in lots of ways. It makes them feel more engaged, more enthusiastic, more hopeful, more resilient and better able to deal with challenges. This could be spending time in a park or garden, or it could be a visit or organised outing to a special place.
They also say there are things that get in the way and stop them enjoying nature as much as they would like. These include lack of facilities such as seats where you can have a rest, features like awkward steps that make it hard to get around, fear of getting lost due to lack of signs, staff seeming unhelpful, or a sense that older people are unwelcome. We need to remove these barriers and change attitudes.
The kinds of places where people go to enjoy nature are managed by businesses and organisations. We will call them ‘providers’. There are lots of providers that want to make things better, but little to help them do so. Our research project will ask: What can be done to make outdoor places easier for older people with dementia and their family members to visit?
There will be 4 stages to the project. People with dementia and their families will be involved in every stage. So will providers.
We will find out what the current situation is by talking to people and looking at what work has been done already.
We will work together to come up with lots of ideas to test out.
We will work together in different areas to test out these ideas to see how well they work.
We’ll share what we have learned as widely as possible