The power of gardening is really underestimated. It’s so good that it’s used for a variety of health conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and for a condition typically overflowing with medications and different therapies, it might just be good for people with dementia too.
The great thing about gardening here is that it’s easy to include family, friends and carers. It promotes engagement between parties which are typically disengaged, and is a chance to talk about something other than a treatment plan for once. In this context it provides enjoyment and better quality of life not just for those with dementia, but everyone around them too.
Having a community garden in the care home or community setting is also a great way for people to meet each other and engage socially, whether they have dementia or not. Gardening is also somewhat a form of art, allowing people to express their ideas and creativity, and a chance to get out of their room!
Gardening itself, whilst being physically and psychologically relaxing, is actually also a form of physical activity. Because of this, people with dementia who regularly garden tend to have better sleep, are less agitated, and have better cognition, all typical benefits of physical activity.
Finally, as if all the above benefits for people with dementia and the people around them weren’t enough, we shouldn’t forget that gardening creates attractive outdoor and indoor spaces that are nicer to be around!
Faye Prior (Researcher)
Edwards et al., (2013). An evaluation of a therapeutic garden’s influence on the quality of life of aged care residents with dementia. Dementia, 12, 494-510.
Lee & Kim, (2008). Effects of indoor gardening on sleep, agitation, and cognition in dementia patients–a pilot study. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 23, 485-9.
Spring et al., (2011). Gardening with Huntington’s disease clients–creating a programme of winter activities. Disability and Rehabilitation, 33, 159-64.
Spring et al., (2013). Is gardening a stimulating activity for people with advanced Huntington’s disease? Dementia, doi: 10.1177/1471301213486661.