Most of us experience life through our five senses: smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing. These senses help us to describe objects, places, people and feelings very effectively.
Odda SENSE-GARDEN
The SENSE-GARDEN environment will stimulate the five senses to give the person with dementia the opportunity to reconnect with his or her life story. In this way, we aim to trigger past memories and improve communication with family, caregivers or medical personnel, regardless of the stage of dementia they are in.
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The SENSE-GARDENs built under this project offer a way of supporting caregivers in their work and helping to improve the care of residents living with dementia. It is extremely important to know the individuals' life stories, and to offer personalized care. The adaptable SENSE-GARDEN knows its users and their life stories, making the experience truly personalized. All personal information and media contents are kept strictly private.

A story

Every day, Julia, a nice woman in a moderate stage of dementia, likes to go for a short stroll in the SENSE-GARDEN. When Julia enters the space, it adapts to her preferences and starts playing music that she likes and recognizes, and screens show images from known places.

Julia can walk along the small path in the SENSE-GARDEN and experience smells from flowers and touch the leaves of plants and trees placed along the path. Initially, soothing sounds from birds are playing in the small speakers concealed in the garden; the screens show videos from the mountains surrounding her village, where she lived with her husband and children. This always calms her down. Next, some pictures from the local farm where she used to work are shown. Julia is now surrounded by images and sounds from her younger times.

Suddenly she is inside her favorite park, where she used to go for walks with her kids, with the beautiful gardens bandstand and the small lake with the fountain, the church in the back. She can hear the sound of the water and smell the scent of the pine trees. All the memories come back to her. She feels happy and wants to share this with Jonathan, her caregiver, standing next to her. This short visit to the SENSE-GARDEN really makes her day brighter.

Julia's favourite music starts playing in the garden. The music brings her back to the memories of her youth. She likes to talk about the moments she listened to that music and share the emotions associated to those times. Jonathan, the caregiver, is willing to listen to the stories she tells him. That helps him to better care for her, and engage with her in a subject that she enjoys talking about.

She is in such a good mood that she gladly says yes to the invitation to go for a cycle tour. Julia and Jonathan both sit on their bicycles, placed side by side in front of a large screen. A film of a road along Julia's village is shown. They cycle as the film unfolds. They make a short stop at the church because Julia always likes to take a moment when passing by, before they continue to her house. Finally, they get off the bikes and walk the short path to the exit; on the way, Julia smells the scents of flowers, touches the plants, and again feels immersed in a space that is calming and so familiar to her.

Jonathan smiles when remembering how she felt lonely and almost stopped talking after just a few weeks in the residence, after she was taken from her home, and that now she looks again happy, her memory seems better and she is so talkative. Since she started her daily visits to the SENSE-GARDEN the behavioural and psychological symptoms are reduced.