My mom was diagnosed with early-stage dementia two years ago. She’s managed to live independently until this year. After much debate, she moved in with my family and me. We are modifying our home and would also like to make some changes to the yard.
Mom has always been a gardener and I’d like her to continue. Beyond fencing in our backyard, what should I know to keep her safe?
Staci in Traverse City, MI
Garden Safety and Seniors with Dementia
What a great question! With the right precautions, a senior with dementia can and should continue to enjoy gardening. Planting and caring for a garden offers a variety of mental, physical, and spiritual benefits for all ages.
Gardening provides a meaningful activity for families to do together. When a senior loved one has dementia, finding activities several generations can enjoy together isn’t always easy.
It also helps reduce stress, improve strength, build stamina, and prevent depression. For seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the benefits are even greater. A few additional benefits of gardening for adults with dementia include:
- Decreased stress, agitation, and anxiety
- Better quality of sleep
- Sense of accomplishment and success
While gardening might seem like a low-risk activity, there are a few safety risks to be aware of for seniors with dementia.
6 Garden Safety Tips for Seniors with Dementia
Use these tips to create a safe, secure gardening environment:
- Inspect garden tools: Some garden tools can have rough edges and points. You might not realize how sharp they are until you closely inspect them. Because dementia can also cause problems with manual dexterity, tools with rounded edges and larger handles are easier and safer.
- Monitor hydration: Seniors with dementia may forget to drink enough water on a hot, humid day. That can put them at increased risk for dehydration. Invest in an insulated water bottle your mom can take into the garden with her.
- Take sun safety precautions: Staying safe outdoors during the summer requires more than hydrating. Make sure your mom applies ample amounts of sunscreen and wears a hat to shield her face. Also, encourage her to garden in the morning or evening when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong.
- Designate places for rest breaks: Dementia can cause problems with mobility and balance. These can be especially pronounced outdoors in the garden. Strategically place chairs and benches throughout the garden to give your mom places to rest.
- Use container gardens: Raised garden beds and container gardens are a safe solution for a gardener with dementia. If your mom doesn’t have to bend over or stoop down to weed and plant, she is less likely to fall.
- Invest in a GPS device: The Alzheimer’s Association estimates six out of ten people with dementia will wander at some point. That’s a frightening statistic for loved ones. Invest in a GPS tracking watch or pendant that tracks her location in real time. Many use cellular technology, which works almost anywhere.
I hope this information is helpful, Staci!
Memory Care for Adults with Dementia
At Heritage Senior Communities, memory care residents have opportunities to enjoy gardening, nature walks, bird-watching, and more. The best way to learn about memory care at Heritage Senior Communities is to take a private tour. Contact us today the community nearest you to schedule a time!