Reconnecting Life of those with dementia back to their families and the wider society
Dementia has become one of the most feared diseases. It is feared more than cancer for those over 50 years of age. The progressive and distressing nature of the symptoms have been widely known to affect both the person with dementia as well as their families. Eventually, the family has to decide whether to take care of their loved ones themselves or send them to a professional care facility. Currently, dementia care facilities are generally disconnected from the community, confine the residents and lack stimulation. Inactive bodies and minds can result in agitation and faster progression of the disease. Through multidisciplinary literature review, first-hand observations of the patient behaviours and a review of existing case studies, this thesis explores how landscape architecture can help in creating a better life experience for those with dementia who live in a care facility. The design ideas are near Te Hopai, an existing dementia care facility in Newtown, Wellington. To overcome the stigmatised environment in the existing facility, this thesis explores the possibilities for bringing the residents out and encouraging the public into their territory, increasing social interaction. A wide group of people such as carers, families and the wider community were considered in the design. Te Hopai’s surroundings, which are currently empty spaces and car parks, have been transformed into a functional and welcoming landscape which the public can use. The landscape has also been designed to encourage residents with dementia who were previously confined inside to experience the outdoor environment. Through designing a socially active, accessible and experiential space that is easy to navigate and interact with, this thesis hope to reconnect and improve the life experience of the person with dementia as well as their community.