Visiting a museum can bring surprising benefits for people with dementia, a new study has found.

People with dementia can gain more from visiting a museum than you may think, say the leaders of a two year research project.

Whilst the benefits of wartime exhibitions and those which stimulate older people’s memories of the past can be very enjoyable, museum visits needn’t be restricted to this sort of activity. In fact, a museum project, based in Tunbridge Wells, found that visitors with dementia also enjoyed learning something new.

Instead of focusing on reminiscence, people with early to mid-stage dementia were invited to ‘object holding’ sessions at Tunbridge Wells museum, in which they were given unfamiliar historical objects to touch and feel and guess what they might be.

Sessions weren’t only enjoyable they also increased wellbeing, confidence and happiness in those who participated.

‘The sessions were shown to be effective across genders with an overall higher level of wellbeing in the early stages,’ says Paul Camic, professor of psychology and public health at Canterbury Christ Church University.

The study was also popular with carers who enjoyed its focus on the ‘here and now’ rather than the past.

‘Feedback I’ve had from carers is that they don’t just want reminiscence because it reminds the person of what they’ve lost,’ Camic added.

Museums nationwide are becoming more dementia friendly and better equipped to enable people living with the condition to continue benefiting from their collections. The Tunbridge Wells Museum recently won a Dementia Friendly award, whilst the ever-popular open- air museum Beamish, in County Durham, has given staff dementia training and created dedicated areas to cater for the increasing number of visitors with dementia.

Click here for more ways to enjoy days out and trips to museums.