Gardening can be relaxing and therapeutic, promoting mindfulness and aiding with emotional regulation.
It also boosts physical health by providing mild exercise and exposing individuals to the sun’s healing rays and fresh air in outdoor spaces.
Additionally, gardening offers social interactions through working with patients and family members – sometimes even involving professional support such as gardening advisors or volunteers.
Depending on the individual’s ability to contribute to gardening, offering simple tasks around the garden, like tasting produce or feeling soil texture, can help engage their motor skills as well as cognitive function and memory related to gardening.
Garden therapy gives individuals an opportunity to participate in meaningful activities that bring joy and prevents boredom, making it one of the most beneficial activities for this population.
Gardening is a beautiful way to provide fun, safe activities that connect patients more deeply with nature while delivering mental stimulation and renewed purpose in life – perfect for those living with dementia.
How to get started with gardening as therapy
To get started with horticultural therapy, it’s essential to set some realistic goals and prepare for the process.
Once you have an idea of your desired outcome for the space, create a plan. You’ll need to consider the size of your area, identify plants that will grow well there, research gardening techniques that best suit your needs, and decide what tools and materials you’ll need for gardening.
While gardening is generally a rewarding experience, it’s essential to choose plants that are easy to care for and that don’t overwhelm the patient.
Succulents and herbs make excellent choices as they require minimal watering. Having plants that don’t need a lot of watering means that gardening doesn’t become a burden or too tricky for dementia patients.
Colorful plants, such as petunias or impatiens, add a cheerful element to the garden and can help engage the mind or evoke memories.
Grooming plants such as roses are also usually manageable and can provide a soothing activity for the patient.
When gardening with dementia patients, it’s best to avoid overly complex tasks – like pruning trees or hardscaping – which may become overwhelming or confusing.
Incorporating gardening as part of dementia care has numerous benefits, from helping them stay active to providing a calming distraction from symptoms. Keep gardening simple and meaningful by choosing easy-to-care-for plants explicitly tailored to their needs!
Tips for creating and maintaining a therapeutic garden
Some tips and things to keep in mind when you are designing a garden for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease:
Be sure the space is set up so that it is easily accessible. For example, you’ll want an even pathway easy to walk over that won’t contribute to accidents. Think about how the plants will grow into the space at the height of summer so that your pathways aren’t overgrown and difficult to navigate.
Incorporate different horticultural activities into the garden space to keep interest at a high level and help maintain cognitive function.
When planning the garden design, consider the addition of sensory gardens into the space to increase the therapeutic benefits and help maintain fine motor skills. Pebble gardens, water gardens, butterfly gardens, and bird baths all help create a better quality patient experience and can increase the time spent in the gardening space.
Incorporate raised garden beds where possible to help make gardening more accessible and enjoyable. If patients are planting as part of their gardening activities, the raised beds will allow patients to maintain physical activity for more extended periods, allowing them to garden regularly. When garden activities become a regular part of their daily lives,
A bonus of the therapeutic gardens is that other patients can enjoy the gardens. The positive impact will spread to others!
Gardening can significantly benefit those suffering from dementia; research shows that gardening activities may stimulate memory recall and improve their sense of well-being. Including the tips above will help ensure your gardening therapy is successful.
Gardening can be an excellent activity for people with dementia and their caregivers. It provides many benefits, including improved mental and physical health, social interaction, and a sense of accomplishment.
If you or someone you know is caring for someone with dementia, we hope this post has given you some great ideas about how to get started with gardening. Be sure to check out our other posts on gardening as you build your dementia garden.