Aside from creating a beautiful place to spend time and enjoy the great outdoors, gardening has several mental and physical benefits to people with Alzheimer’s. Research shows activities that engage the senses provides those with Alzheimer’s positive emotions that they may no longer experience regularly. Using principles from the Montessori Method, gardening therapy engages all of the senses, and can help people with Alzheimer’s rediscover their world.
Benefits to Gardening
Although those faced with Alzheimer’s may become more paranoid and withdrawn as the disease progresses, many long-term memories will be retained. Gardening therapy may help people recall those pleasant long-term memories and bring them back to a healthier time.
Other benefits to gardening include:
Allowing loved ones to experience success, ultimately building confidence
Boosting energy levels and promoting a good night’s sleep
Creating a sense of community of gardening with others
Creating a sense of purpose for a loved one faced with Alzheimer’s
Great exercise for the mind and body
Helping to maintain an existing skill set
Gardening Therapy Tips for People with Alzheimer’s
While gardening may seem like a basic activity, there are a few things caregivers can do to ensure the activity is a pleasant experience for everyone:
1. Avoid giving someone with Alzheimer’s any sharp gardening tools.
2. Build raised beds so that gardening is more accessible and enjoyable.
3. Create a garden in the shape of a figure eight, as dead end gardens can cause confusion.
4. Ensure all plants are non-toxic.
5. Garden early in the morning to avoid the hottest times of the day.
6. Keep it fun and light-hearted!
7. Provide adequate sunscreen and a hat to protect your loved one from the sun.
8. Try planting a container garden, to make the activity more accessible for a senior.
Residents of Chesapeake Cottage Assisted Living in Snow Hill, MD and owner, Seth Underwood, enjoyed planting tomatoes on this beautiful day!