Guest contributor Sally Writes explains the benefits of gardening for dementia sufferers and gives advice on adapting gardens
There are many obvious benefits to gardening for people of all ages—and especially for the more mature. Increasing mobility and relieving stress are just two of the benefits that can be easily achieved by growing a bed of beautiful flowers with the help of the best adaptive gardening tools. But did you know that gardening can also reduce the effects of dementia in older people?
According to the Office for National Statistics, 1 in 6 people in the UK over the age of 80 are diagnosed with dementia, meaning that there are over 850,000 people living with the condition. It is also the leading cause of death in the UK for elderly people, making it all the more important for families to engage in activities that can avert dementia symptoms in elderly loved ones. Gardening can both increase their levels of brain and physical activity, which will work to counteract the negative effects of dementia.
The Benefits of Gardening for Dementia Patients
Gardening is one of the easiest ways to engage in exercising without even knowing that you are working out your body. For elderly people with symptoms of dementia, it is therefore one of the best ways to establish a healthy habit in daily life that will exercise the body and mind simultaneously. Tending to a garden will make sleeping easier, as it is a tiring form of physical activity, and the fresh air can also stimulate one’s appetite, which is something that is often reduced by dementia.
Additionally, gardening can help dementia patients to focus on a positive, constructive activity that allows them to be in control of something that brings easy reward. In many care facilities, gardening is called horticultural therapy, as it typically provides the same opportunities for mental and emotional healing as other forms of dementia treatment. For these reasons, gardening is an easy distraction for elderly people that can alleviate symptoms of dementia like confusion and memory loss.
Considerations for Creating a Dementia-Friendly Garden
If you are set out to create a garden that is equipped for dementia patients or older people more generally, there are certain considerations that will be effective. Some ideas to incorporate into a dementia-friendly garden include:
- Levelling the surrounding ground, walkways, and paths
- Raising the beds to avoid bending down and soreness
- Buying plastic containers that are unbreakable
- Choosing plants that are easily maintainable
- Knowing which plants are potentially poisonous or harmful
By being mindful of these considerations, people can establish gardening spaces that encourage good mental and physical health for the sake of elderly loved ones seeking to reduce symptoms of dementia.