Gardening is potentially a “long-term” memory for residents with dementia. For many of them gardening was not only a hobby, but a necessity for survival. They come from a generation when growing and canning fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs was a way of life. They enjoyed being outside working the dirt, reaping the fruits of their labor from the garden, and helping their families live and survive.
It is beneficial to connect individuals living with dementia to their long-term memories. As Alzheimer’s and other dementias progress, residents lose their ability to independently partake in activities they once enjoyed. They rely on us to trigger long term memories through engagement. By doing this, we can honor who they are and help them retain their sense of self. Activities, such as gardening, often lead to interesting stories from the past, sparked by the activity itself. It is very gratifying for the resident to be able to complete tasks from the past and recall memories associated with that task.
Here at Gentry Park Senior Living Bloomington, IN, to celebrate and participate in National Gardening month we will be sprucing up our courtyard by planting flowers, seeds, and herbs. We will incorporate activities throughout the month that are geared toward every level of care. Gardening is a great sensory experience for late-stage dementia. For those residents, we will focus on digging in soil, smelling flowers, and tasting recipes using our fresh herbs.