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Grow a Garden of Benefits:
Gardening for Those with Dementia

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Tranquility, exercise, and vitamin D are some of the top benefits of gardening. These benefits and countless others will enhance the daily life of your loved one living with dementia.

According to Alzheimers.net, gardening is one of the top activities which should be included in a Montessori Method to caring for someone with dementia. This approach encourages learning and development through incorporating slight challenges in an individual’s learning. For those with dementia, Montessori is a safe way to encourage your loved one to stimulate his or her brain, body, and memories by participating in safe, well-designed activity.

You can create a safe garden of stimuli and stress relief for your loved one by considering the following advice when designing the space and selecting plants to include.

Be Deliberate in Plant Selection

In addition, to being a great pastime and a way to get exercise, the purpose of a garden is to maximize sensory response. Incorporating a variety of plants which are safe to touch, are non-toxic, and fragrant will improve the sensual aspects of gardening.

Edible plants like fruits and vegetables will encourage your loved one to taste, while the scent of fragrant herbs such as lavender, rosemary, mint, and thyme might conjure pleasant memories of learning to cook, eating in a favorite restaurant, or their mother’s perfume.

To maximize your loved one’s positive outcome from gardening and spending time in the garden, be thoughtful when selecting which plants you will incorporate and how they will be arranged. First spend time with your loved one selecting colors or specific plants for the garden either verbally or by using photographs. Consider incorporating your loved one’s favorite colors or favorite blooms.

While selecting which plants to include and how they should be arranged, be sure to consider the safety of the plants themselves. Avoid any poisonous plants (such as poinsettia), plants which might have thorns (roses), and plants which could cause a skin irritation (nettles). Check your plant selections against a list of poisonous plants before letting them take root in your garden. If roses are your loved one’s favorite flower, and you decide to incorporate them in spite of their thorns, consider planting them in an area where they will be visible, but out of reach.

Design with Purpose

The majority of those living with dementia are elderly. For this reason, accessibility is key to a truly tranquil garden. Raised beds with rails will make plants reachable and closer for viewing and smelling. Be sure to incorporate lots of pleasant places for sitting along an even, circular or figure eight shaped path to encourage rest while also avoiding a confusing layout. Incorporating additional elements such as water features and wind chimes sporadically throughout the space will provide location markers and also additional sensory stimuli.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

Gardening imparts several benefits on everyone, but especially those with dementia. Some of these benefits include:

  • reduced stress
  • outdoor activity in a safe environment
  • independence
  • increased communication
  • stimulates memory
  • stimulates sensory response
  • reduces pain
  • increases mobility
  • reduces agitation
  • fosters emotional healing

NEW RESEARCH – JANUARY 2018: Healing gardens can play a role in management of cognitive disorders, emotional stress, sensory processing and sense of harmony for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. Learn more.

Visit Our Garden

For more information about how to set up a garden for a loved one with dementia or if you would like to visit our garden, contact Primrose at 707-578-8360. We will be happy to help you enhance the quality of each day of your loved one’s life with the colorful, fragrant blooms of our garden. We hope you have enjoyed the photos from our garden sprinkled throughout this article.

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