What gives our lives meaning is different for every one of us. For some it may be caring for children or grandchildren, for others making an impact in a chosen profession, or studying history, travelling, singing in a choir, getting one’s hands dirty in the garden, swimming in the ocean.
DTA’s Salutogenic approach
A ‘salutogenic’ approach is one that focuses on factors that support health and wellbeing, beyond a more traditional, ‘pathogenic’ focus on risk and problems.
This approach is widely used around the world – in health, education, workplaces, architectural design – and we believe it has enormous relevance in dementia care.
‘Salutogenesis’ means ‘sources of health’ from the Latin word ‘salus’ (health) and the Greek word ‘genesis’ (source). Sociologist Aaron Antonovsky coined the term in 1968 to explain why some people manage to live well even when subject to extreme stress or illness.
Three key concepts
These three key concepts help to move our focus from ‘disease/illbeing’ to ‘health/wellbeing’.
the experience of making sense of one’s own context, life story and current circumstances.
the experience of managing day-to-day physical realities; staying warm, dry, clean, rested and nourished.
the foundation of the desire to live; a belief that things in life are interesting, satisfying and worthwhile.
A new approach in dementia care
With almost half a million Australians living with dementia, including more than 50 per cent of residents in government funded aged care, a new approach is needed.
A salutogenic approach is about finding opportunities for people with dementia to live as full a life as possible.
There are many examples of aged care providers making changes to help residents engage and find meaning:
Play areas for visiting children
Opportunities to peel vegetables in kitchens
Tinker in garden sheds
A mural to look at instead of a brick wall
Salutogenic Approaches For Dementia
Dr Jan Golembiewski
BFA, BArch, MArch, RAIA, PhD
Director, Psychological Design
Jan is one of DTA’s content experts. As an architect, Jan has a passion for designing environments that support “best life possible” for people, especially those living with dementia.
In the news
Read about DTA’s approach to salutogenesis and dementia care
A salutogenic approach, which focuses on factors for health and wellbeing rather than disease, has enormous relevance in aged care, and particularly dementia care.
In this article, Jan Golembiewski, a practising architect and neuroscience PhD, reframes the essentials of good design and care delivery for people with dementia.