Gardening Therapy for Someone with Alzheimer's

Does anyone have any information about home gardening with a relative with Alzheimers as therapy?

barbara1E from Akron, OH

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February 3, 20090 found this helpful

My Dad had dementia and he was admitted to an Aged Care Facility- they had a small garden which they encouraged him to use - he would need help of course but he took great delight in seeing the seeds come up of the flowers he had planted and he would be out in the garden looking after the watering and other plants - the only problem there was that he considered it to be his garden and he would become a little upset if anyone else did anything in it - I think they overcame it by not letting anyone look after his little plot with the flowers.

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February 4, 20090 found this helpful

I just have a warning. Make sure that he/she has an ID bracelet that has the phone number of the caretaker.They are prone to just start walking and get lost.Our neighbor's father left his wife saying "Thank you for dinner, but I have to go home to mother now." and walked out and was hit by a car a few miles away. The wife was legally blind so she couldn't follow him.Both elderly and really should have had someone taking care of both of them. He passed away from his injurys . The driver was not held, it was not his fault. I have heard there is a tracking device for them now too. Hope this is helpful. GG Vi

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February 5, 20090 found this helpful

I saw a picture once of a home which made up-high gardens for all their residents, with a collection of every kind of bathtub on the lawn, full of dirt and flowers trailing over the sides. They were far enough apart for the wheelchairs and a local church supplied the dirt with help from farmers with tractors who blended it full of compost. When I go get ingredients for my gardens, instead of one big truckload or big heavy garbage cans, I have ten 5-gallon buckets and I can carry them about 2/3 full.

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February 6, 20090 found this helpful

I believe it depends upon the patient. If not too far into Alzeheimer's, they might be more interested. However, if they just lost everything with which they were familiar, as in being moved because of their condition, I seriously doubt they'd be interested at all until they are fully adjusted. Remember that 99% of all bacteria is in the soil, so it would be necessary for them to wear very thick vinyl gloves while working in soil, even fresh from a bag or store. There's a risk that they might have a compromised immunity because of their age, state of health, and might inhale mold, pollen, dust, and any other environmental debris, which could cause a throats, lung or sinus infection, and you must admit they don't need that. I'd encourage you to seek cleaner

indoor activities, and invest in a good lawn chair or swing for the outdoors on warm days that are neither hot nor cold, and that they not get exposed to direct sunlight longer than ten minutes. With care and wisdom, they can live quite a few years. It's about six years for my mom now, in a nursing facility that is laid back, attentive but not pressing lots of activities.

Family visits and little "treats" seem to be what my mother likes most,even more than fresh flowers. I also don't talk down to her as if she were an infant, and keep her informed of the current events which she seems to understand and appreciate knowing, even if not so good. Sometimes I take a Thriftyfun joke to share, talk about what's happening with her great-grandchild, work a page with her from a children's activity book, which intrigues her, perhaps because they had none when she was a child?

She loves colorful things, not fancy items as she once did. I also collect the glossy "newspsper celebrity sections" in a single cellophane bag for her, saving money on magazines which the staff take home when I leave for home!

She loves unsalted peanuts, occasional slushies in warm weather, a fresh apple, or banana, and especially a small portable hearing device from Walgreens that cost under $10, which I transport back and forth with me, so it doesn't get

"borrowed and not returned" by the mystery "visitors" at the home she's in.

Photos seem to depress and/or confuse her mind.

She talks of wanting to get well and go home, but I remind her that she's in "an apartment now", with her own bedroom furniture and framed pictures, home-cooking, maid and nursing service so she

is "living like a queen" in a very nice place near her relatives (who very seldom visit!)

Remember that life was much simpler when older elders were young, and many lived on farms watching baby animals born to play with. Mother doesn't care for stuffed animals, so occasionally I pack up one of our pets and take it with me to visit her. She is intrigued with it, and thanks me for bringing it (house bunny, cat, exotic mouse).

Most relatives are disturbed to see how she has deteriorated, but I just carry on as if when I used to visit her, tweezing her brows/chin, rubbing hand lotion on her arms, massaging her shoulders gently, walking arm in arm with her down a hallway at her pace, and calling her on the phone in between visits.

She always reports that she's doing just fine, praise God! God bless Him for watching over our loved ones and for those of you who have them in home or nursing facitily and still consider them as loving and human, not forgetting them. They need us, don't they? I even need my mom, as old as I am,

and pray with her as I tell her I love her each time I leave, remembering it may be the very last time until we get to Heaven. They love hugs and real, not chocolate kisses, too! God bless them and you.

: )

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