Can gardening help dementia?
There’s little doubt that spending time outdoors when the weather is good can benefit any one of us, however when you’re living with the cognitive decline that can happen with types of dementia, being in calming, familiar surroundings can make all the difference to your wellbeing.
If you’re concerned that you can’t manage to get into the garden or do light weeding alone, Helping Hands’ superb live-in or visiting dementia care can make all the difference. By supporting you to get around your home, access your garden, or keep on top of the tidying, we’ll make sure that you always maintain surroundings to be proud of.
Benefits of gardening with dementia
Leading UK dementia charity, Dementia UK, tell us that “Maintaining physical activity, cognitive function and social interaction, all helps someone who has dementia to remain stimulated, feel valued and helpful.” Gardening therefore is a superb opportunity for someone living with dementia to not only get some beneficial exercise, but to stimulate the senses, and provide essential occupation. This could happen by working together with your carer to plan how you want your garden to look, choose plant species, or research seed types. Having access to a sensory garden can be incredibly beneficial to maintaining the wellbeing of someone living with dementia, and being able to help design and grow it will also bring a feeling of occupation and belonging to the person in their own home.
Garden activities for dementia patients
One of the best things about gardening is that there’s always plenty to do, no matter what season we’re in. Spring and Autumn bring planting opportunities, while Winter offers maintenance possibilities, and Summer the fruits of our labours! Because it is an evolving, ongoing process there is no chance to get bored when you’re looking after a much-treasured outdoor space, whether it’s a substantial acreage or a window box. If you’re fairly independent at home and your dementia isn’t very advanced you may still enjoy managing certain aspects of your garden yourself, perhaps with the support of someone who comes in to do the heavier work for you. Yet, even when someone is living with more advanced dementia, they can still take a part in deciding what they would like their garden to look like, and they may still love the feeling of putting their hands in soil. As Dementia UK says, “There are many gardening activities which could involve the person living with dementia, whatever their disabilities. If they are physically able, they may be able to be prompted to do the tasks themselves. Otherwise, helping, or even just watching and feeling involved can be enough.”
Some tasks that can be undertaken include:
Planning – This could involve a professional or just the person and their carer. If possible, you might enjoy a visit to a local garden centre with your carer, with a good excuse for coffee and cake in the café afterwards!
Preparing – If beds are raised in the garden it can make access much easier for everyone, regardless of their ability. This means that jobs such as weeding could be shared, which will ensure a beneficial feeling of taking part.
Planting – This can be a lovely shared job if physically possible, whether seedlings are going into pots or established plants straight into the garden beds. Sowing seeds may be an easier job for someone with limited dexterity as they can potentially drop the seeds in without needing as much precision.
Collecting produce – Once the fruit, veg, and flowers are in full bloom the fun really starts, as they can be picked and prepared for use. The senses can go into overload with all the wonderful smells, feelings, and tastes of what’s ready to pick, and even if dexterity and mobility are in decline, your carer can support you to enjoy the spoils, and help you to plan what dishes can be made.
How Helping Hands can help with dementia care
For more than 30 years we’ve been supporting people with dementia to live as independently as possible at home, delivering visiting or live-in care designed to our customers’ exact needs. Keeping Feeling comfortable and safe in familiar surroundings is important for everyone, but it’s even more necessary when living with dementia. Dementia UK tells us that “much activity for someone who has dementia is in the ‘here and now’, and the enjoyment of sharing a current task. This can be so rewarding in a garden, where the calmness of the surroundings can also lead to developing and sustaining relationships.” Our carers will ensure your surroundings remain calm, ordered, and safe at all times, while supporting you to enjoy your garden and all of the home that means the world to you. However you – or your loved one living with dementia – like your routine to proceed, we will be able to make sure it always flows smoothly, and because our services are fully regulated by the Care Quality Commission and Care Inspectorate Wales you can be confident in the highest standards of care delivery.