Gardening is potentially a “long-term” memory for our residents with dementia. Most long-term memories for those with dementia are things that were routine to them, things they did habitually and with purpose. In the winter it’s easy to reminisce about bundling up in your boots and winter jackets. They remember scraping ice and shoveling snow. But in the spring and summer their purposeful routine would have been planting food to eat or flowers to enjoy in their yard. These tasks at one point in their lives were done with purpose. This is how they ate, fed their families, and spent their time. Gardening is a meaningful, fun activity. Hopefully, starting a garden here at their new home will bring back the same joy!
It is beneficial to connect individuals living with dementia to their long-term memories. The hard part of this disease is the “in-between” that some residents feel. They may recognize themselves partially, but not completely. Bringing back these long-term core memories, any way we can, may help them feel whole again. If they feel like themselves for even ten minutes while watering plants or smelling flowers, we have succeeded. This can spark conversation, inspire more work, and just simply make people happy. This is the goal and is exactly why engagement is important.
Here at VITALIA Senior Residences® at Westlake in Westlake, OH to celebrate and participate in National Gardening month we will be doing a few different gardening activities. We will be planting seeds of vegetables and flowers, followed by maintaining them, and discussing their progress. We will have reminiscing activities referring to a multitude of different gardening activities. We will do some craft projects involving flowers and collages, along with some fun facts and trivia surrounding gardening as well!