Why Gardening for Elderly with Alzheimer’s Is Used to Beat Symptoms and How to Encourage It
Gardening has been around since time immemorial, which only underscores its essential role in every human being’s life. The very sight of natural beauty that we brought to life with the work of our hands, without a doubt, sustains us in more ways than one. This is precisely why gardening activities for seniors should be encouraged, regardless of whether the senior is at home or in an assisted living community.
Should you be looking for guidance on how to do this as well as know more about gardening’s connection to Alzheimer’s and dementia, then continue reading on because we’ve shared every important information regarding this particular topic here.
How Far Is the Extent of the Connection Between Gardening and Alzheimer’s?
Given the literature that we already have available, the connection is relatively extensive. Time magazine actually released an article around three years ago highlighting the vital role of gardening at an early age in reducing Alzheimer’s risk later in life. While the article also noted other mental and physical activities, it and many other studies put a focus on the importance of gardening.
Summed up, here are the facts that we’ve gleaned from perusing these references:
- Almost any form of exercise, mental and physical, can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. It’s a given that gardening fits both categories.
- What makes gardening particularly special is that it’s one of the few activities that can be physically and mentally stimulating while relaxing at the same time. Stressors have been found to accelerate cognitive decline among those with dementia.
- Another thing that makes it unique is that it has a restorative effect on the mind and body, even if a person already has dementia. This only leads to the positive mood that gardeners feel after completing work.
- If we’re going to look at studies on supplements that are necessary to beat these conditions, one of the most important is Vitamin D3. There’s no better source than it than sunlight, which a lot of gardeners are exposed to when doing most of their activities.
- In plenty of studies conducted on the effects of sensory gardens and Japanese gardens on those with dementia, many reveal marked improvements in behavior, medication compliance, fall risk mitigation, depression prevention, enhanced cognition, and enhanced overall quality of life.
- No specific horticultural activities were singled out as the most beneficial. A lot of the studies involved participants engaging in tending the garden (i.e. watering, fertilizing, etc.) while equally many involved taking part in psychotherapy, art creation, or simply walking and spending idle time in the actual garden.
Take note that most of these studies’ results were released as recently as 2021. That being said, most of them did assert the importance of conducting further research and answering lingering questions such as figuring out which gardening activities impart the most benefits (with regards to timing) or knowing whether a particular garden design can have a better effect.
How Do Most Assisted Living Communities Encourage Gardening?
Assisted living communities near me, especially those specializing in memory care, often invest in so-called dementia gardens or therapeutic gardens to help the elderly under their care. Basically, these gardens are strategically created to bring about the most therapeutic benefit to anyone that happens to wish to spend time in them.
You’ll see many dementia gardens similarly designed to the way we do it in Lantern Communities as evidenced by the following characteristics and strategies when making them:
- Placing flowers of different varieties and colors stimulates the senses as much as possible.
- Planting herbs, berries, fruit trees, or even some vegetables not only encourage self-sufficiency and impart the gratification of working for one’s food but also promotes healthier diets.
- Including fish ponds, if the allotted space allows it, so seniors may also feed the fish.
- Placing gardening furniture like chairs and tables where people may readily socialize and relax while taking in the natural exquisiteness of the garden.
- Construct covered areas like gazebos where the elderly may lounge even if it’s raining.
- Make sure that there are no ready hazards that seniors may encounter when spending time in them.
Take note that most of these gardens are often tended by the seniors themselves, often with the help of staff and caretakers.
How to Help Seniors Do Gardening Properly and Safely
Keep these pointers in mind when you’re planning to start your loved one gardening. These tips are, of course, already assuming that he or she is willing to commit to it in the long run, as is the case in plenty of seniors in an assisted living center near me.
- Ask them whether they prefer to work in the mornings or evenings. You can’t really settle for any else other the either one since it’s never wise to work during noon or early afternoon when temperatures are at their highest.
- Be mindful of the gardening tools you give them as they may end up getting hurt by pointy and blunt equipment.
- Prepare raised beds for them to fill up with the right soil or potting mix combination. Try cutting the steps they need to take in getting started as much as possible. Be sure to dissuade them from doing anything too strenuous such as lifting heavy loads or digging.
- Make sure they’re wearing the appropriate protective gear such as gardening gloves, shoes, and hats.
- Help them avoid injury by reminding them of the right way to bend their knees and hips.
With its proven benefits, it’s safe to say that gardening should always be part of the routine of seniors with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia. These conditions are difficult to treat as they are, and gardening is certainly not a magic pill of any kind that can guarantee complete protection from them.
However, the fact that Assisted living homes near me are all too willing to combine non-pharmacological treatments that have scientific bases with conventional therapies affirms the importance of unlocking alternative routes to delay these conditions’ progression.