Gardening tips for those with Alzheimer's

If your aging loved one has a knack for gardening, encourage her passion for this activity, but also take steps to ensure she is safe every step of the way. Here are some tips for gardening with a senior with Alzheimer's disease that will keep your aging loved one and the rest of your family safe and secure while enjoying this time together:

  • Try to limit gardening activities to early in the morning and later in the evening to avoid the most intense heat and sun of the day.
  • Make sure your loved one is wearing adequate sun protection, including sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid giving your loved one sharp gardening tools such as spades, picks and hand rakes.
  • Avoid using potting soil or fertilizers that contain dangerous chemicals in case your loved one tries to consume these products.
  • Never leave your loved one alone in the garden.
  • When it comes to weeding the garden, make sure that your loved one is using a technique that is safe for her joints. Make sure she has adequate hand protection to prevent cuts and irritation.
  • If getting outside is too strenuous for your loved one, or you are concerned about her safety in a larger garden, consider having a container garden inside. Grow small plants such as herbs that are easy to care for and will give the same sense of accomplishment when they grow. 

For a senior with Alzheimer's, gardening with a loved one can stimulate memory and improve cognitive functioning, while also giving them a much-needed activity, social involvement and a sense of accomplishment throughout the growing season.

Kristi Vaughn

I am a Licensed Social Worker and owner of Adult Comfort Care: A Person Centered in-home assisted living resource for seniors and their families.  We serve Western Cuyahoga County.

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Volume 6, Issue 12, Posted 9:32 AM, 06.10.2014