Indoor walking – a potential for enhanced interplay with Alzheimer´s patients
With the tool “Let´s have a walk” it is possible to take an indoor walk, and at the same time get the feeling of grass or snow under one´s feet. The tool has been tested on seniors in Skövde, among other places, during the autumn. It is developed by the Latvian designer Lasma Kondrate, who wanted to find something to do together with her grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.
Let´s have a walk stimulates muscle activity and social interaction, primarily for people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Two people sit opposite each other and cooperate by stepping up and down or back and forth on two wooden boards. The boards can be varied with different types of materials that gives the feeling of snow, grass, sand or gravel. This can also be coordinated with rods to activate the arms. There is also a set adapted for a single person.
The prototype was tested during the autumn of 2018 by seniors in Skaraborg within the framework of the EU project BaltSeanior, where the University of Skövde is included. It has also been tested in Pori in Finland.
– The project is important for understanding and developing furniture for the elderly part of the population which is increasing in number, says project manager Lotten Svensson.
Childhood walks with grandmother
Let´s have a walk was developed by the Latvian designer Lasma Kondrate, as a degree project at the Art of Academy in Riga. She got the idea after visiting her grandmother with Alzheimer's, who no longer recognized her.
– We had nothing to talk about and I didn't understand what she was saying.
As a little child Lasma often took walks together with the grandmother, and Let´s have a walk became a way to continue with it, but indoors. Unfortunately, she didn't have the time to test the prototype on her grandmother before she got too ill.
– I tested it on other Alzheimer's patients. When we trained together it was easier to get in touch. They opened up, Lasma says.
In Sweden, the tool has been tried by seniors in Skövde and Timmersdala, to find out if it can be valuable exercise even for people who do not suffer from dementia. The majority were positive about the experience and expressed that it was a good way to activate the body.
"One can exercise on mobility without having to be strong," one test person said.
"Raises childhood memories"
The opinions varied about the different materials, which should be experienced as snow, grass, sand and gravel. The Finnish seniors liked the feeling of snow best, while the majority of the Swedish seniors appreciated the grass.
"It raises childhood memories of walking barefoot in grass," one of them noted.
– It was clear that Let´s have a walk brought great joy among those who tested it. Especially the coordination exercise with both arms and legs gave rise to good laughs. It was fun to see, says project assistant Marie Schnell.
BaltSeanior has purchased a prototype, which will be available at the University of Skövde even after the project has been completed.
Lasma Kondrate is currently working on designing furniture and has no plans at the moment to develop and sell Let´s have to walk commercially. But she keep that door open, if it would appear someone who wants to cooperate.
BaltSeanior includes participants from nine countries with the aim of creating innovative solutions to support entrepreneurship in the Baltic Sea region, in order to create comfort and security for elderly people who live at home. The Swedish section includes Tibro and Lidköping municipalities via suspension agreements, where the municipalities, the furniture industry and dementia housing are included. The project will end in April 2019.