Gardening may help dementia patients

Gardening could play a significant role in transforming the lives of dementia patients for the better, it has been claimed. The BBC reports a number of experts have suggested access to the outdoors, coupled with physical activity, can have positive outcomes for those suffering from the condition.

Fiona Thackeray of Trellis - a charity that is organising a course on designing gardens for people with dementia, while also maintaining a network of more than 170 therapeutic yard projects - noted green-fingered activities can prove effective when combined with a suitable drug regime.

The expert observed: "It's a great physical activity so it's a good way to keep fit, or get fitter. Most people find it calms them down, it's a great stress reliever."

She added greater exposure to vitamin D to be enjoyed by spending more time outside is another advantage offered through pursuits such as gardening, as to is the likelihood of scented herbs and flowers bringing back positive memories.

Linda Blair, Chartered Clinical Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, commented: "It's fairly widely accepted now that gentle aerobic activity such as gardening or walking encourages memory function and improves orientation generally.

"Being outside in natural light, particularly when you are active, also lifts mood. Furthermore, gardening is particularly beneficial because it stimulates our sense of smell and touch.

"These two senses often open a conduit to some of our earliest memories, so the effects of working in the garden can be particularly powerful."
Last year the Society gave a public engagement grant to the Young at Heart project, which aims to improve the mental and physical health of socially isolated men by involving them in regular gardening sessions and monthly support meetings.