Gardening for Wellbeing with the Dementia CafeAlison Marsden
Seasonal Gardening activities improve wellbeing at Dementia Cafés & Peer Support Groups
These meetings, run by The Alzheimer’s Society in Kent and Medway for people living with dementia provide vital support, information and a space to socialise. The meetings include activities to stimulate and engage the attendees through reminiscence, use of different senses, creativity and fun.
Since 2016, I have been providing seasonal gardening activities at each of the six West Kent Dementia Cafés and Peer Support Groups several times a year.
How Does It Work
My gardening sessions usually take place in the middle of each meeting and last about 40 minutes. I pre-prepare activities to suit the needs and capabilities of the group. Always working indoors at tables, I ensure that there are no thorns, irritative or poisonous plants and no fiddly seedlings to prick out, so that everyone can share in the achievement of a job well done. Attendees work together, share materials and help those around them and often take the finished product home to show and discuss again with their family.
Some of the most popular activities include:
- Choosing and planting bulbs and bedding plants
- Identifying cooking herbs
- Creating leaf and flower collage pictures
- Identifying plants and garden items by touch
- Making bird feeders
Gardening is a sensory activity and I often take in leaves and flowers from my garden. This exercise encourages discussion around the shape, colour, texture and scent as we identify the plant or flower. These activities reinforce the season and often stimulate a memory of someone’s own gardening hobby or back into childhood in a grandparent’s garden.
What attendees have said
“It gets you all motivated”
“Very interesting learning about all the plants”
“It’s food for thought”
“I will do this activity with my granddaughter”
“Very calming and relaxing”
“I look forward to each session”
Sarah Sheppard, Support Group Facilitator for the Alzheimer’s Society Kent and Medway says:
“Alison is a regular guest speaker at the Dementia cafes and Peer Support Groups. She leads a wide range of inclusive sessions with enjoyable hands-on activities such as making collages, some simple planting, taking part in a sensory game or simply examining and appreciating flowers and foliage – facilitating cognitive stimulation, health and well-being.
She encourages people with dementia and their carers to participate and successfully adapts to the diverse needs of all the attendees.
Alison is always willing and reliable. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her communication skills enable everyone to feel comfortable whilst the achievement of participating in the sessions give people confidence, a sense of purpose and satisfaction. We are grateful for her generous support”
For further information
Please contact me to find out how I can help your organisation create a tailored programme of gardening activities to boost mental wellbeing for clients, patients, staff or volunteers.
With thanks to the Alzheimer’s Society Kent and Medway