There are many benefits to gardening for Alzheimer's patients. Gardening is an activity which can produce a positive emotion in a person with Alzheimer's or dementia. Gardening involves all the senses and helps a person with dementia recall happier times. It also reduces stress, boosts energy levels which will help the senior get a good night's sleep.
In some care facilities, are sensory gardens. By planting bright flowers with heavy fragrance or an interesting texture, it encourages the person to use their senses. The gardening space is usually enclosed or sectioned off to prevent wandering behavior. With a figure 8 path, if the person does wander, it works with instead of against the wandering behavior.
Pathways should be easy access for wheelchairs with a level surface which is non-skid for secure walking. If the flower beds are raised, it provides a more accessible and enjoyable time for gardening. The gardening tools shouldn’t be sharp, and all the plants should be non-toxic in case of ingestion. Adding a small fountain or pond would give a feeling of serenity as well as several windchimes among the plants. Benches placed in shady spots or around the fountain would provide a comfortable place for sitting.
When residents are gardening, they should have non-slip shoes, kneeling pads, gloves and comfortable grip safe gardening tools. Sunscreen should be provided, and all gardening should be done in the cooler part of the day.
Some of the other advantages which gardening provides is to help maintain a skill set which already exists. It may be buried in the recesses of the person's mind, but gardening will bring it out. The art gardening can create a sense of purpose for the person and its exercise for both the mind and the body. Plus, if the person is joined by other gardeners, it makes for a sense of community and fellowship.
Family time can be spent in the garden as well. Family members can join in gardening or help the loved one garden. When finished gardening, just walking around and spending some quality time in the fresh air can be helpful to bring back lost memories gardens in the past.
If the garden has a section for vegetable gardening, planting the vegetables, and harvesting them when its time is another pleasant task the person might enjoy. Eating what they grew may also give them fond memories and pleasure.
If the weather is not cooperating to garden, seed catalogs can also be used. The person can look through the photos of the seeds and flowers and enjoy themselves as well. If possible, watch and see what flowers attract the person’s attention and order those for the next planting.
Gardening is therapeutic, not only for the person with dementia but can be a bonding experience for the family members as well. Gardening can bring back pleasant memories which can be shared, lifting moods and relieving stress.