As part of a project to make our towns and cities less stressful for older people, some older residents in parts of East London and Leith in Scotland have been wired with equipment that records brain activity to measure their emotional responses.

The aim is to help researchers find ‘hot spots’ that may, or may not be good. The project (reported by the Daily Telegraph, 2nd October) is being run by Edinburgh University.

‘Mood and emotional state affects people’s judgements and actions. Well-designed places with good ambience are more likely to engage us.’ Said Professor Catharine Ward Thompson, Director of Openspace at the University of Edinburgh.

Researchers are hoping that at the end of the three-year project they will be able to make recommendations to urban planners.

Relaxing spaces in urban areas
Relaxing spaces in urban areas

Their findings may be interesting for people involved in creating ‘Dementia Friendly Communities’. People with Alzheimer’s can have impaired perceptions, and ‘fear free’ zones might be helpful for them.

I don’t know about East London and Leith, but some of our Welsh valleys might provide interesting results.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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