Gardening Tips to Empower Senior with Alzheimer's

  • June 18, 2019

As spring turns to summer, many people are enjoying the opportunity to be back in the garden again. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, it’s a fun activity that reduces stress, while promoting a sense of peace and happiness. For adults with Alzheimer’s disease, the benefits are even more plentiful.

Benefits of Gardening for Adults with Alzheimer’s

Gardening is a way to improve the quality of life for a senior with Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia that does not involve medication. The very act of digging in the dirt can reduce agitation and anxiety.

Other benefits of gardening for seniors with varying forms of dementia include:

  • Increased sense of independence and self-esteem
  • Reduced pain and decreased need for pain medications
  • Improved strength and balance which may lower the risk for falls
  • Enhanced memory and ability to reconnect with happy days

Gardening Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

If you’re a caregiver for a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease, cultivating and caring for a garden can be good for both of you. Together you can create an outdoor space that helps you relax and enjoy your time together.

Here are a few tips to help you get started and stay on track:

  • Planning: Start your planning efforts by determining what outdoor space you can devote to your garden and what plants you want to fill it with. Flowers, herbs, and vegetables can be fun to grow together. Sites like Pinterest and Better Homes & Gardens can provide ideas.
  • Container gardens and raised beds: If space is limited or if you or your loved one have mobility challenges, consider planting your garden in containers or raised beds. They take up less space and offer safer access when caring for your garden.
  • Circular gardens: Wandering is a safety concern Alzheimer’s caregivers often face. You can lower the risk your loved one will wander away by creating garden paths that form a circle. Keep the senior’s garden away from exits and gates.
  • Benches and chairs: Don’t forget to place chairs and benches throughout the garden. Gardening can be hard work, and having a place to sit can give you both a chance to rest.
  • Share responsibility: Whenever possible, give your senior loved one responsibility for a few garden tasks. While you might have to prompt them when tasks need to be completed, having a job to do can be empowering for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease.

Best Garden Plants for Adults with Alzheimer's

Shop for plants with your loved one online before heading off to a local greenhouse. By finding plants you like online, you can investigate them a little more. You’ll want to make sure they are appropriate for your climate, and the hours of sun your garden receives.

It’s also important to check that everything you are considering is nontoxic. An adult with Alzheimer’s might try to eat pretty flowers that catch their eye. Sites like Poison Control and ProFlowers can help you determine if a plant you are considering is safe.

Two more tips for choosing plants for your garden include:

  • Sensory stimulation: Use colorful flowers and those that have a pleasant fragrance. Plants with texture can also help spark your loved one’s senses.
  • Harvest potential: Plant herbs and vegetables the two of you can pick together and use for preparing meals. Basil, rosemary, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers are easy to grow even in small spaces.

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living

At Five Star communities, we utilize the Montessori approach to dementia programming. This helps residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia enjoy their best quality of life. Call (617) 796-8387 to learn more!


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51 Warning Signs

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