You or your beloved family member have arrived at the point in your life where it is time to move into an assisted living facility.
A great deal of your time will likely be spent indoors away from the beauty of nature and the sea. It’s not as easy to get around as it once was and you miss the leisurely strolls down the beach. Without the luxury of having the natural elements at your fingertips, you may find your new environment dull and even hostile. The simplest way to reduce this new struggle of life is to bringing the natural elements to you using the medium of art. Installing large scale, vivid natural imagery in your living space will serve to enhance quality of life. Multiple studies looking at the effect of natural art on health have indicated the following:
· Lower blood pressure and heart rate (Ulrich et al., 2003).
· Lower stress and anxiety levels (Ulrich 1991, Ulrich 1999).
· Improve mood (Ulrich et al., 1993).
· Increase satisfaction with health care services (Ulrich et al., 2003)
· Reduce of pain medication intake (Ulrich et al., 1984).
This data suggests that by “watering the wall” in an assisted living facility or any institution, markedly improves the quality of life for both the residents and the staff charged with their care. I have witnessed this phenomenon first hand. One month ago, a number of my ‘tranquil water’ art pieces were installed in common spaces, hallways and rooms in an assisted living facility near Wilmington, N.C. Upon a recent return to photograph the installation, an elderly resident in a wheelchair rolled up and inquired about my artwork. He had been a commercial fisherman in the area most of his life. “I have spent most of my good years on the water,” he told me, “and now I can’t be there. I miss it.” He took a deep breath and a long pause, “Every time I look at your work… I just feel good.” Responding in gratitude, I thanked him for his candor and generous words of praise. As I moved around the facility and spoke with other residents and even staff, the general consensus was one of delight. All spoke to the sense of peace they found when looking at the water presented in such an aesthetic manner.
As I walked out of the building I was once again in awe by the power of water. The universal love for the water is deeply ingrained in our human spirit. The soft fascination only the element of water holds is basic and fundamental to our subconscious happiness, which is why it is vital that the wall be watered. Are you watering your wall? If you’re feeling visually dehydrated please let me help you. Push the ‘Let’s talk art’ button and lets water your wall.
-Sean D. Ruttkay
Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science, 224: 420- 421.
Ulrich, R. S. (1991). Effects of health facility interior design on wellness: theory and scientific research. Journal of Healthcare Design, 3: 97-109. [Reprinted in S. O. Marberry (Ed.), Innovations in Healthcare Design (pp. 88-104). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1995]
Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E., Miles, M. A. and M. Nelson (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology 11: 201-230.
Ulrich, R. S. (1999). Effects of gardens on health outcomes: theory and research. Chapter in C. C. Marcus and M. Barnes (Eds.), Healing Gardens: Therapeutic Benefits and Design Recommendations. New York: John Wiley, 27-86.