8 December 2017
The Benefits of Gardening for People With Dementia – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Wendy Hughes
Dementia Australia advise that two-thirds of people with dementia reside in their own homes. Support for those living in our community to continue participating in everyday activities is often lacking, resulting in feelings of depression and isolation. Ongoing engagement in outdoor activities such as gardening, can potentially counteract these negative experiences by enabling people with dementia to interact with nature, helping to improve their physical and psychological well-being.
Gardening with peers or in a community style of garden that encourages a collaborative approach, may encourage the development of a sense of community, thereby enhancing social integration. We are all aware of the ever increasing evidence supporting the therapeutic value for people with dementia in residential care, however, the benefits of horticultural therapy in a community setting have yet to be formally evidenced. There are numerous international and national projects setting out to identify the benefits and potential of horticultural therapy as a means of facilitating improved physical and psychological well-being and social integration for people living with dementia within our community.
One of these projects is underway in the UK :- Does a Structured Gardening Program Improve Well-Being in Young-Onset Dementia? A Preliminary Study (P Hewitt, C Watts, J Hussey).The project set out to identify the benefits of a two hours per week structured activity program of gardening for people with younger-onset dementia:
• Mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) of therapeutic gardening for people with young-onset dementia, measuring outcomes for both participants with younger-onset dementia and their carers, was used.
• Participants were recruited county-wide based on onset of dementia being before the age of 65 years (range 43–65 years).
• Over a 1-year period the carers all reported that the project had given participants a renewed sense of purpose and increased well-being, despite cognitive functioning continuing to decline during this period.
• The outcome suggested that a meaningful guided activity program can maintain or improve well-being in the presence of cognitive deterioration.
Interchange Australia has a beautiful sensory garden at Springett House in Burradoo where clients have the opportunity to see, touch, smell, hear and taste the plantlife. The clients plant and maintain the garden and harvest fruit and vegetables to use as ingredients in the various cooking groups Interchange Australia offers.
If you would like to learn more about the services Interchange Australia provides for people with dementia, please contact one of our friendly and experienced consultants on 1300 112 334.