A ‘salutogenic’ approach is one that focuses on factors that support health and wellbeing, beyond a more traditional, ‘pathogenic’ focus on risk and problems. This approach is widely used around the world – in health, education, workplaces, architectural design – and we believe it has enormous relevance in dementia care.

‘Salutogenesis’ means ‘sources of health’ from the Latin word ‘salus’ (health) and the Greek word ‘genesis’ (source). Sociologist Aaron Antonovsky coined the term in 1968 to explain why some people manage to live well even when subject to extreme stress or illness. He described three conditions as being necessary to live as full a life as possible:

the experience of making sense of one’s own context, life story and current circumstances.

the experience of managing day-to-day physical realities; staying warm, dry, clean, rested and nourished.

the foundation of the desire to live; a belief that things in life are interesting, satisfying and worthwhile.

Salutogenesis, DTA's Salutogenic Approach to dementia care

Salutogenesis, a new approach in dementia care

A salutogenic approach is about finding opportunities for people with dementia to live as full a life as possible.

With almost half a million Australians living with dementia, including more than 50 per cent of residents in government funded aged care, a new approach is needed.

There are many examples of aged care providers making changes to help residents engage and find meaning:

hydroponic gardens

Hydroponic Gardens

Play areas for visiting children

Opportunities to peel vegetables in kitchens

Tinker in garden sheds

mural on brick walls

A mural to look at instead of a brick wall

Video: Salutogenic Approaches For Dementia – Jan Golembiewski PhD


Dr Jan Golembiewski
BFA, BArch, MArch, RAIA, PhD
Director, Psychological Design
Registered Architect

Jan is one of DTA’s content experts. As an architect, Jan has a passion for designing environments that support “best life possible” for people, especially those living with dementia.

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Read about DTA’s approach to salutogenesis and dementia care