Gardening at home can be a great way for people affected by dementia to stay active and improve well-being. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, here are some top gardening tips to try during lockdown.
Getting green-fingered can be a great way to alleviate stress, boredom and anxiety. Taking part in a physical activity like gardening can stimulate the senses and memory, and greatly improve well-being.
There are simple ways to encourage people living with and affected by dementia to continue gardening and enjoy gardens.
Top gardening tips for people with dementia during Spring and Summer
1. Planting seeds and pruning shrubs
Sowing seeds into pots or beds can offer a sense of achievement as the plants grow and blossom or bloom.
You could choose plants to help stimulate the senses, such as smell and touch. A lamb’s ear, for example, could offer a great sensory opportunity.
Beware plants that may be poisonous, irritating for skin or eyes, thorny or sharp-edged. If these include someone’s favourites, there could be alternatives. For example, larkspur or lupins (both poisonous) might be replaced with hollyhocks or mullein.
2. Creating, maintaining or topping up a water feature
A water feature could help stimulate the sense of both sound and visual, as well as touch if safe. It could also spark memories of gardening hobbies and encourage conversation.
You could try creating your own water feature using a washing up bowl in the ground.
3. Creating a wildlife corner
Welcome insects and other animals into your garden by creating an area just for them. You could leave an area of the garden uncut, or create a log or rock pile habitat to welcome the little critters.
Or why not try creating a bee hotel using hollow stems or bamboo shoots tied together?
This could help aid conversation and encourage communication through looking for the animals or insects.
4. Garden maintenance
From watering plants and deadheading to harvesting vegetables and fruit, these can give a sense of accomplishment and, in turn, increase wellbeing for a person with dementia.
Pruning shrubs or cutting the grass could also be a good activity in the garden. Talking ideas through to decide what needs pruning could also encourage conversation.
5. A picnic or dinner in the garden
Enjoying a picnic outside can help conversation by making the environment as appealing to the senses as possible.
Familiar sounds and smells of the kitchen and food, and familiar sights such as tablecloths with flowers be enjoyed.
6. Painting garden furniture
With Spring weather upon us, why not dig out a paintbrush and paint to spruce up your garden furniture and fences?
Painting can be quite relaxing, while feeling like something noticeable has been accomplished.
It’s a great opportunity to make your garden more welcoming and enjoying a refreshment on the garden furniture afterwards will make it all worthwhile.
Coronavirus: Activity ideas for people living with dementia
Keeping active and purposeful when staying at home will help fight off boredom and frustration. Here are some activities you can try at home.