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Green Design: Reducing Cognitive Decline

Access to green space can lessen cognitive decline in seniors

Green Space and Seniors

Research recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that living in greener neighborhoods is associated with slower cognitive decline in the elderly.

Carmen de Keijzer, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study, says in a press release, “There is evidence that the risk for dementia and cognitive decline can be affected by exposure to urban-related environmental hazards (such as air pollution and noise) and lifestyle (such as stress and sedentary behavior). In contrast, living near green spaces has been proposed to increase physical activity and social support, reduce stress, and mitigate exposure to air pollution and noise.”

With nearly 10 million new cases of dementia every year, according to the World Health Organization, providing seniors with access to green space could not only improve their quality of life but also provide health benefits.

Create Outdoor Spaces That Enhance Healing in Your Community

CPS vendor partners can help you provide green living options for the seniors in your community:

  • BrightView designs, develops, and maintains landscapes that promote healing, instill well-being, and ensure the safety of residents, staff, and visitors.
  • LandCare provides landscape maintenance, design, installation, irrigation and water management, and snow and ice management.
 Outdoor Furniture 
  • Direct Supply can transform your outdoor space into an inviting environment with their selection of outdoor furniture.
  • Freedom Outdoor Furniture is designed with seniors in mind, made with recycled plastic, and guaranteed for 35 years not to crack, break, rot, splinter, or peel.
  • Kwalu’s line of outdoor furniture is made from sustainable materials that leave a low environmental footprint.
 Outdoor Fitness Equipment 
  • LifeTec can get your residents moving outside with ActionFit’s outdoor fitness equipment for seniors.
 Electric Vehicles 

Bringing Memory Care Outdoors

More and more establishments are recognizing the need for outdoor spaces built for seniors, showing how important it is to be proactive when caring for your memory care residents.

Johanna and John Jameson opened Memory Farm, a three-acre property outside of Chicago, to give people in the early stages of dementia the opportunity to remain physically active and retain a sense of purpose. Activities include gardening, animal therapy, and yoga, and the property is designed for safe wandering. More organizations are following suit and building memory care farms to tap into the benefits that nature and outdoor spaces can provide seniors with dementia.

Creative Spaces, in the UK, also uses nature and outdoor spaces to benefit people with dementia by providing environments that support a sense of meaning and purpose. Using creative skills that employ undamaged parts of the brain can lead to a renewed confidence and improved ability to make connections.

And, the Copenhagen-based firm Nord Architects is building a series of centers for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia that feel more like villages or cities, rather than bleak institutions. Focused on outdoor living, this approach is being adopted in Europe and the U.S.

Health and Wellness Indoors

Green living can extend inside a community as well to positively affect dementia patients. LED lighting and circadian lighting are important when it comes to memory care. Proper ventilation plays a critical role in overall well-being. A Harvard study showed that green building design had a significant impact on cognitive function—61% higher in green building conditions and 101% higher in green building conditions with enhanced ventilation. Chemicals found in paints, flooring, and carpets can negatively affect your residents (and staff) and should be taken into careful consideration when designing your spaces.

CPS can help you keep the health of your residents in check, both inside and outside, through our extensive network of carefully vetted vendors. Contact us to learn more.

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Care Purchasing Services (CPS) is the leading national group purchasing organization (GPO) dedicated to connecting senior living communities to carefully vetted vendors in plant operations, food service, medical supplies, therapy, pharmacy, and more.