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Alzheimer's Garden Plan


Updated: November 24, 2006

Good Garden Design for Safety, Reflection & Exercise

The Alzheimer's Garden Plan

Having access to a nice garden can meet so many needs for people with dementia and their caregivers. Good garden design can be part of a treatment plan for people with Alzheimer's who are very restless or agitated and who like or need to walk a lot.

Aims of Garden Design for Alzheimer's

  • Provides exercise, opportunities to relieve tension, frustration and aggression.

  • Provides personal space for reflection and privacy.

  • Provides a different social environment.

  • Provides stimulation with color, smells and sounds of wildlife.
  • Good Design for Alzheimer's Garden
    First you need to think about the garden's design. One of the best is a figure-of-eight looped path, or similar, simple returning-path system. You can plan a garden that allows access outside but always leads the wandering person back to their house or building.

    Think about visibility and observation so caregivers can relax if they use the time for separate pursuits. Good dementia garden design should cater for the able bodied as well as those who have problems with mobility.

    In your garden design you will need to include places to sit and shelter from the sun and the wind. Bushes and trees provide structure and direct movement. Maximize perennial plantings, annuals do take up more time. Fill the garden with bright flowers. Place herbs, lavender and other plants so that when brushed they will release their fragrance.

    Providing a Safe Garden for Alzheimer's
    Safety issues are central to good garden design for people with Alzheimer's or dementia. The design should include;

  • Pathways that are smooth, and low in glare.

  • Steep gradients are not a good idea, neither are steps or low planters.

  • Appropriate proportion and path width is very important if you are catering for wheel chair users. As people with Alzheimer's and dementia do tend to lose physical skills and ability over time it may be a good idea to cater for mobility aids at the outset.

  • Use upward bevel edges on concrete walkways. This can keep wheelchairs from rolling into lawns or landscape beds.

  • Handrails can be used along the pathways to help those who have difficulty in walking.

  • In gardens you need protection from the sun and the wind throughout the four seasons of the year. Protection from the sun is very important as certain medications, such as largactil, (thorazine) or mellaril (thioridazine), can make the skin more prone to sunburn.

  • Use of nonpoisonous and nontoxic plants. Plants can harm people if they eat parts of the plant. Others can cause skin rashes and irritation.

  • Avoid dark, shadowy areas. People with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia can mistake it for negative events.
  • Too much light reflection or dark areas are not helpful to older people who can have problems with their sight. A number of degenerative eye conditions are common in old age.
  • People with Alzheimer's Love Gardening Too!
    Include people with dementia in planning and designing the garden. Many people with dementia will have built up a lot of knowledge and experience about gardening. They can contribute in varying ways, from active involvement to picking their favorite flowers.

    Send us your pictures and ideas of gardens catering for people with dementia
    If you have designed a garden to cater for someone with dementia or to cater for disabilities we would love to see the results Send e-photos to us and a few notes about your garden. We can share your gardens and your ideas for the best sort of garden design.

  • Gallery Pictures of Babs' Garden

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