Research Design Connections
Studies show the benefits of gardens for the mentally ill, reasons for walking, and how greenways help preserve urban biodiversity.
By Jean Marie Cackowski-Campbell, ASLA, and Sally Augustin
William L. Brown
Landscape Architecture, in partnership with the web-based newsletter Research Design Connections, will
continue to use this column (the previous example appeared in the May 2006
issue) to report current research of interest to landscape architects from a
wide array of other fields.
We welcome your comments, suggestions about future topics,
and studies you have encountered in your own practice.
How Gardens Benefit Alzheimer’s Patients
More and more designers are including gardens when creating
institutional settings for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of
dementia. Two recent studies explore the science behind the uplifting effects
of such gardens and take note of successful design features. The first study,
by sociologist John Zeisel, advocates coordinating pharmacological treatments
and other treatments for Alzheimer’s disease such as providing gardens and
visual access to nature, even in institutional settings. His research suggests
that designed spaces that encourage Alzheimer’s disease patients to function at
their highest levels share several common elements: “porches, patios, and
gardens that provide residents with continuous access to the out-of-doors.”
The reasons behind the long-observed benefits of gardens for
Alzheimer’s patients are numerous. Early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, for
instance, have confused internal time clocks, and “[e]xposure to the sun for
even half an hour early in the day aligns various bodily time clocks, while
being physically in contact with the time of day, the weather, and the passing
of the seasons helps residents living with Alzheimer’s remain aware of time
passing,” Zeisel notes. These positive effects of gardens have been verified
through scientific research.
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