Caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia requires long-term commitment and compassion, but fortunately, there has been quite a bit of progress in treating and caring for patients. For those suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or memory loss, memory gardens offer a wide variety of benefits.
The Benefits of Memory Gardens
Carefully designed to stimulate the brain and senses for aging adults, memory gardens offer a therapeutic place to enjoy the outdoors, as well as an opportunity for light physical activity and socialization. They have been found to be particularly impactful in the early stages of dementia or for those who fear they are at risk. Remarkably, a 2006 study showed that gardening could lower the risk of dementia by 36%.
While the majority of a memory garden’s impact is stimulating brain function, memory gardens possess other benefits as well. The natural beauty of plants and the sweet smell of flowers are a natural mood-booster. In addition, planting, trimming, and pulling weeds offer psychological benefits, including boosting the gardener’s self-esteem, improving their attention span, and encouraging physical activity.
Creating a Memory Garden
It’s also important to tailor the garden for memory maintenance. Utilizing a single path allows patients to wander freely without getting lost, and specific garden ornaments can be used as landmarks throughout the garden. Provide places to sit, as well as places to retreat from the sun. It may also be a good idea to utilize raised flower beds to make it easier for the mobility-impaired to move around within the garden.
Small Memory Gardens
For some patients, having an entire outdoor garden isn’t an option. Don’t worry—they can still enjoy the benefits of memory gardens. Even a small planter can offer the therapeutic benefits of a more extensive memory garden. These tiny gardens can be a wonderful way to incorporate memory gardens into your life or the life of a loved one without the commitment of an extensive, in-ground garden.
For more assistance with caring for your aging loved one, visit the Good Shepherd blog.