It was published in the ‘Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders Journal’ that the findings of the study were revealed.
Researchers looked into whether people with dementia were better able to carry out tasks such as making a cup of tea at home, where they were surrounded by their usual clutter, or in a clutter-free environment such as a hospital.
When the researchers discovered that participants with moderate dementia performed better when surrounded by their usual clutter, they were pleasantly surprised.
But the different environments made no difference to people suffering from mild and severe dementia, who were able to perform at the same level in both settings regardless of their condition.
Prof Eneida Mioshi, from the University of East Anglia’s School of Health Sciences, stated, “The vast majority of people living with dementia do so in their own homes, and they generally prefer to remain there for as long as possible after their diagnosis. Determining how people with dementia can be best supported at home is critical, and one possible approach is to modify their physical environment in order to better meet their needs.”
“The progression of dementia results in a gradual loss of the ability to carry out daily tasks as a result of changes in cognitive, perceptual, and physical abilities. Adapting the person’s environment, on the other hand, could help to improve their participation in daily tasks “Mioshi chimed in with his own thoughts.
“Because of the potential to use de-cluttering to support people with dementia in their efforts to remain independent, we set out to investigate the role of clutter in activity participation. An excessive number of objects on a surface, or the presence of items that are not required for a task, is defined as environmental clutter “Mioshi went on to say more.
“Generally speaking, it is assumed that a person suffering from dementia will be better able to carry out daily tasks if their home is clean and uncluttered. However, there has been very little research to really test this hypothesis, and the results are not encouraging “Mioshi shared his thoughts.
“We were interested in seeing if clutter had a negative impact on people suffering from dementia. Therefore, we looked at how people with different stages of dementia coped with daily tasks at home, surrounded by their usual clutter, compared to how they coped with daily tasks in a clutter-free setting — a specially designed home research laboratory.” Mioshi went into detail.
Julieta Camino, an occupational therapist and PhD student, conducted the study, which included 65 participants who were divided into three groups based on their level of dementia: mild, moderate, and severe.
UEA’s specially designed NEAT research bungalow — a fully furnished research facility that felt exactly like a domestic bungalow — was where they were asked to carry out daily tasks such as making a cup of tea and preparing a simple meal, both at their own homes and at the NEAT research bungalow.
Besides evaluating the participants’ performance in both settings, the researchers also measured the amount of clutter in their personal residences during the study. Meanwhile, the NEAT home environment was completely devoid of any clutter.
Julieta Camino, also from the University of East Anglia’s School of Health Sciences, stated, “We hypothesized that the complete lack of clutter in our research bungalow would be beneficial in assisting people with dementia with their daily living activities. We were right. We, on the other hand, were mistaken.”
According to Camino, “we were surprised to discover that people with moderate dementia, in particular, performed daily tasks better at home — even though their homes were significantly more cluttered than our research bungalow.”
“In addition, it didn’t appear to make a difference how cluttered the participant’s home was during the study. The only factor that determined how well they were able to carry out tasks at home was their level of cognition — with those suffering from severe dementia experiencing the same difficulties carrying out tasks at home as they did in the research bungalow, the findings indicate that “Camino went into detail.
The Alzheimer’s Society and the National Institute of Health Research’s (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration East of England (ARC EoE) program provided funding for this research.
According to Sian Gregory, Research Information Manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, “If someone has dementia and is living at home, we can make educated guesses about what might be beneficial to them, such as decluttering their environment so they can concentrate on tasks such as making a cup of tea. However, as this study demonstrates, our assumptions may not always be correct.”
“It is critical for caregivers to challenge their own assumptions in order to better understand how to assist someone with dementia to live well in their environment. That is why the Alzheimer’s Society funds a wide range of studies such as this one to determine what treatments are effective for people living with dementia today, as well as to discover new treatments for the future, according to the organization “Gregory came to a close.