Seoul Metropolitan Government creates the “Yard for Centenarians” at welfare service centers and parks near homes for daily prevention of dementia

#"Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been no place to go. At least, the welfare service senter is opened these days and I visit it. But, it seems that I feel sick after staying in the house for a while…. I only said a few words all day. Now being able to meet people was the hardest."

□ There are growing concerns that the prolonged pandemic could decrease outdoor activities and reduce social exchanges, deteriorating physical and cognitive functions of the elderly and aggravate depression. In paricular, declining cognitive ability can accelerate dementia. As we are about to enter a super-aged society in 2025, where 20% of the population are the elderly, it is imperative to prevent dementia by assisting the elderly to maintain and habituate their senses through outdoor activities when they remain capable of learning and adapting. 

□ Seoul Metropolitan Government developed the "Yard for Centenarians," a spacial design that allows senior citizens to develop physical, emotional and social health in their daily lives, and applied it to the Songpa Senior Welfare Service Center for the first time. On the 13th (Tue) at 14:30, Mayor Oh Se-hoon will visit the " Yard for Centenarians" creatd at the Songpa Senior Welfare Service Center to tour the site and seek means to expand and develop it.

□ The "Yard for Centenarians" is a space that arranges adequate exercise equipment and cognitive health programs to strengthen muscles for everyday life in living areas such as the front yard of a welfare service center or a neighborhood park. The elderly will be able visit it daily and easily, and prevent dementia. The purpose of it is to create an "aged-friendly environment," in which senior citizens can delay their admission to nursing facilities and hospitals, and live a healthy and long life in their homes.

□ In particular, it is characterized by a "popular" design that can be installed in small spaces in living areas. To this end, Seoul Metropolitan Government has selected applicable items among 77 types of cognitive health times (house-type, apartment-type, park-type,etc.), which have been pushed forward via "cognitive health design project" since 2014, and supplemented and developed them through consultation with spatial designers, doctors, special sports experts, and social workers.

○ As an effort to respond to the dementia problem that senior citizens are most concerned about, Seoul Metropolitan Government has been pushing forward 'cognitive health design project' since 2014. The project was based on a research result* that lack of any of the three essential stiluli needed in senior citizens' lives, i.e., physical, emotional and social stinuli, may accelerate dementia. In other words, it is necessary for the elderly to maintain and habituate these senses through outdoor activities when their learning and adapting abilities stay intact. 

*Reference : Dementia related policies of Australia (Gardens that Care: Planning Outdoor Environments for People with Dementia), other related papers (What Is the Impact of Using Outdoor Spaces Such as Gardens on the Physical and Mental Well-Being of Those With Dementia? A Systematic Review of Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence, etc.)

○ Cognitive health design results (example): ▲ House-type(road leader, shelter/healing garden that connects memory/people, safety intersections marks, memory shelter for stimulating five senses within local living areas) ▲ Apartment-type(memory dulle-gill withing apartment complexes, memory yard within apartment complexes(cognitive health customized exercise equipment, gymnastics information board, etc.), cognitive enhacement at the apartment entrance, memory mailbox, etc.), ▲ Park-type (contents to stimulate the five senses using representative food materials of the 24 divisions of the year, gardening therapy class, cognitive health gallery, etc.)

□ The "Yard for Centenarians," created at the Songpa Senior Welfare Service Centerr, is a 200m2 sized area in the outdoor space of the Welfare Service Center. It is composed of a totla of 14 design items in 3 coursed according to health-realted themse (1. physical enhancement, 2. emotional heling, 3. social exchange).

□ First of all, the course for strengthening the body consists of four tupes of exercise equipment, including shoulder muscle strengthening exercise, finger exercise, correct postufre exercise, and care-handed gymnastics, so that the elderly can enhance muscles that are helpful in daily lives. In addition, a cognitive helath course using the interior and exterior spaces of the welfare center was created so that senior citizens can create their own health habits by taking a different course every day.

□ In particular, the exercise equipment installed an integral information sign that displays the exercise method as well as the appropriate time and number in pictogram and large letter so that anyone can easily follow. This reflects the opinion that the elderly are at risk of injury because they are not able to read the instructions of exising exercise equipment clearly.

□ Furthermore, it was intended to motivate the elderly that they will be able to perform their daily lives well after returning home by informing that regular exercise helps them climb stairs, press cell phone buttons, and do housework.

□ Second, the design for emotional healing includes installtion of a flower bed linked to the gardening program operated by the welfare service center, a gallery where the works of the elderly can be exhibited, a reminder sign of the 24 dibisions of the year that summons momories and allows the elderly to feel the seasons, and a cognitive clock that informs date and time.

□ It is expected that by sharing the results produced through the welfare service center programs with local residents, senior citizens will be able to enhance their self-esteem and gain more opportunities to interact with neighbors.

□ Thirdly, the design for social exchange includes a small stage and chairs for the elderly to perform and a floor pictogram where thet can play games of their memories such as a game of yut and hopscotch. In particular, Seoul Metropolitan Government noted the welfare service center was flooded with applications for performances by senior citizens as soon as it was installed.

□ The Songpa Senior Welfare Service Center has trained 13 people as the first-team "cognitive health leaders" with the concept of taking care of senior citiznes in order to enhance the effectiveness of the installation and operation of the "Yard for Centenarians." It is expected to increase the exercise effect by guiding how to use it according to the eyes of the elderly and improve depression through mutual empathy.

□ A senior citizen who is currently participating as a "cognitive health leader" said, "At first, I started thinking it was for me. But, I think it is really great that I can contribute to others. I do have a lot of pressure for being a leader but I will work hard with pride."

□ Following Songpa Senior Welfare Service Center, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to create a "Yard for Centenarians" in four additional places (Geumcheon Senior Welfare Service Center, Nowon Senior Welfare Service Center, Mapo Seniro Club, and Seocho Jamwon Neighborhood Park) by March next year.

□ Furthermore, it plans to continue to expand the design of the "Yard for Centenarians" in connection with Mayor Oh Se-hoon's pledge project, the "Senior Playground." Currently, guidelines are being established for the "Senior Playground" projject, and the "Yard for Centenarians" design will be reflected in the guidelines and distributed to autonomous districts.

[Attachment 1] Photo of the "Yard for Centenarians"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Diagram of the Yard for Center

                <Before construction>                                           <After construction> Panorama of the 

                                                                                                                 Yard for Centenarians

                                                              Exercise zone for physical activities

   Cognitive clock(today's memory), a stage for              Gallery for works by senior citizens (photo,

 everyone/ a flowered for everyone (in connection                   paintings, calligraphy, etc.)

     with welfare center program), floor game 

            pictogram (social exchange)

            Reminder sign of the 24 division of the year                                    Floor exercise pictogram

            (summon memories), an evergreen "hill for 

                   everyone" (emotional healing)

                      Cognitive health leaders training at Songp Senior Welfare Service Center

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