Gardening and Alzheimer’s – What’s the Connection

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, globally, more than 55 million people are living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. This is particularly poignant for me as my dad, at 88 was recently diagnosed with dementia. While I am on the front lines of bringing the wellness benefits of gardens to everyone, I am fairly new to the reality of being a daughter of dementia disease. Bringing the connection between gardening and Alzheimer’s to conversations is something I am now addressing frequently.

Gardening has emerged as a beneficial activity for Alzheimer’s patients, offering therapeutic advantages that can significantly enhance their quality of life. The following notes explore the multifaceted benefits of gardening for individuals with Alzheimer’s, supported by relevant research findings.

June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. This month provides an opportunity to support those affected by these conditions, promote brain health, and advance research efforts aimed at finding a cure. Here, we delve into the significance of National Alzheimer’s Month and explore various ways to get involved and make a difference.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurological disorder that impairs memory, cognitive function, and behavior. As the population ages, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s is increasing, necessitating effective non-pharmacological interventions to improve the well-being of those affected. Gardening, a low-cost, accessible activity, has been shown to provide numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits for Alzheimer’s patients.

Physical Benefits

Gardening promotes physical activity, which is crucial for maintaining mobility, strength, and overall health in Alzheimer’s patients. The physical tasks involved, such as planting, pruning, harvesting, and watering, offer gentle exercise that can enhance cardiovascular health, improve muscle tone, and increase flexibility.

Psychological Benefits

Gardening has significant psychological benefits, including stress reduction, improved mood, and enhanced cognitive function. The therapeutic effects of interacting with nature and engaging in meaningful activities can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Stress Reduction: The calming nature of gardening helps reduce stress and anxiety. Being outdoors and engaging with plants provides sensory stimulation that can soothe and relax individuals (Goto et al., 2018).

Gardening has been shown to enhance mood and reduce agitation and aggression in Alzheimer’s patients. The engagement with nature and the satisfaction of nurturing plants can lead to significant behavioral improvements (Pedrinolla et al., 2019).

Cognitive Stimulation: Gardening stimulates the brain and can help slow cognitive decline. Tasks such as planning garden layouts, remembering planting schedules, and identifying different plants can provide cognitive challenges that keep the mind active (Larner, 2005).

Social Benefits

Gardening also offers social benefits, promoting interaction and reducing feelings of isolation. Group gardening activities can foster a sense of community and belonging among Alzheimer’s patients.

Social Interaction: Gardening in groups encourages socialization, which is critical for emotional well-being. It provides opportunities for patients to interact, share experiences, and work together toward common goals (Noone et al., 2017).

Sense of Purpose: Engaging in gardening gives Alzheimer’s patients a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Completing gardening tasks and seeing the results of their efforts can boost self-esteem and provide a sense of pride (Styck & George, 2022).

Sensory and Emotional Benefits

Gardening activities can stimulate the senses and evoke positive emotions, which are particularly beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients who often experience sensory impairments.

Sensory Stimulation: The variety of textures, colors, and scents in a garden provides rich sensory experiences that can help maintain sensory functions. Touching plants, smelling flowers, and seeing vibrant colors can invigorate the senses (Smith-Carrier et al., 2019).

Emotional Well-Being: The act of gardening and spending time in nature can evoke feelings of joy, tranquility, and satisfaction. This emotional uplift can significantly improve the overall well-being of Alzheimer’s patients (Zeisel, 2007).

Gardening offers a holistic approach to enhancing the quality of life for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Its physical, psychological, social, sensory, and emotional benefits make it a valuable therapeutic activity. By incorporating well-designed gardening programs into care, caregivers can provide a meaningful and enriching experience for Alzheimer’s patients, promoting their well-being and improving their overall quality of life.

The more I learn about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease the more I appreciate those who are moving the conversation to the forefront and working to bring funding to the research needed. People like Maria Shriver, Samuel L. Jackson, Rita Wilson, and Seth Rogen are raising awareness to help others going through Alzheimer’s. While there is still no cure, our increased knowledge about the disease is helping to improve patients’ lives.

Here is a good read on Garden therapy: An effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.

Well-Being Benefits of Horticulture-Based Activities for the health and well-being for people living with Dementia from the National Institutes of Health.


Recent Posts

Cooking With Fresh Herbs

Harvesting your own herbs adds flavor to any dish and is good for you. Every… Read More

2 days ago

8 Tips for Planting and Growing Seasonal Herbs

Feel great this summer. Growing herbs at home is both delightful and rewarding but for… Read More

2 days ago

5 Reasons Why You Should Plant a Patio Pepper Garden

Growing peppers is simple and brag-worthy – once you grow one, you will be hooked… Read More

5 days ago

Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

One of our favorite ways to enjoy fresh parsley is to make a Chimichurri sauce.… Read More

1 week ago

Welcome to Summer 2024 | A Letter From Our Co-founder Donna Letier

Welcome to Summer As we embrace the warmer days ahead, I find immense joy in… Read More

2 weeks ago