ALZHEIMER’S AND EXPERIENCE NATURE: testimonial by Nicoletta Bocca

“L’osservazione interessante – e che a mio parere varrebbe la pena approfondire con un studio più dettagliato – è che i video hanno introdotto uno stimolo cognitivo e attentivo importante dopo un momento di rilassamento, pur mantenendo all'interno della seduta calma e tranquillità”.

“The interesting observation-and one that in my opinion would be worth investigating with a more detailed study-is that the videos introduced an important cognitive and attentional stimulus after a moment of relaxation, while maintaining within the session calm and tranquility.

“I have used nature videos with people with dementia admitted to the Alzheimer’s Unit.

The six people I worked with have severe dementia, and the Npi showed wandering, delusions and, in one case, aggression.

The videos were used within the White Room during sensory stimulation sessions. The sessions are individual sessions for four persons, while two persons participate together by their choice. In the cases examined, the sessions were organised in a relaxing manner: soft lighting, lavender scent, relaxing music, in four cases hand and face massages.

The videos were proposed after a moment of relaxation with only the White Room equipment. The 4 ladies chose freely, looking at the cover, the Flowers and Snowfall DVD, one gentleman chose Sea & Wind, another Sea & Land and Green River.

The two ladies participating in the sessions by lying down and alternating moments of wakefulness and drowsiness continued to maintain the relaxed position but commented at length on the Flowers video, naming the flowers correctly, paying attention to the insects present and grasping the repetitiveness of the image.

Cognition, attention and memory are activated, as well as numerous signs of well-being such as smiling, a surprised and cheerful tone of voice and mimicry. The scent of lavender that was present in the room was also noted.

The snowfall also stimulated childhood memories of a gustatory nature (snow with sugar and wine). In two ladies, it was interesting to note that the snowfall stimulated a pleasant sense of anticipation (‘let’s see if any little beasts pop out’).

The gentlemen who used the video of the sea, as well as recounting trips and fishing moments, both, despite a certain diffuse stiffness, followed the movement of the waves back and forth with their seated bodies. I wanted to emphasise this phenomenon by making the same movement myself and pointing it out to them. The result was a brief moment of motor play, also by visualising the feet in the waves and moving them as if one were swimming. I think it is interesting to deepen this part related to the stimulus of movement and videos of nature (e.g.: hair shaking in the wind to move arms upwards).

To a gentleman who had been transferred to the unit from another department because he was verbally and physically aggressive, I thought of proposing the video of the sea from the outset because – of Sicilian origin – he often talked about the beautiful sea of Sicily. The video was projected on the living room television and also viewed by other people. The gentleman entertained the other residents by looking at the sea and telling seafaring stories. Previously he had delusions of possession that resulted in aggression, whereas in front of the sea he told stories about owning ships, fleets and various ferry services. I consider this shift in interests significant due to watching the videos that allowed him to integrate with the other people to whom he told sea stories.


I project the videos in the ward, the long sequences, at fixed hours, morning and evening. We simply leave the armchairs in front of the television set. People spontaneously sit down, thus reducing wandering, talk to each other, sometimes sleep. I really like to offer them a tool that they can use as they wish, get up, come back and weave relationships without the intervention of others, all very naturally.

Dr. Nicoletta Bocca, physiomotor therapist at Opera Pia Cerino Zegna, Biella, Italy

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