The air is still cool, but the sun is warming on our faces… ahh, all the beauty and renewal of spring is upon us! And despite not having been in a garden or getting their hands dirty in the soil of flower beds, our elders living with dementia may have had a love of Mother Earth and we don’t even know it!
For this and many other reasons, it is important that EVERY person, whether aging in place at home, attending a day program or living in a care community have the ability enjoy activities they’ve loved throughout their lives. One of the best ways to do this is by learning about each person’s past. When we do this, we gain a great deal of information that we can integrate into their days and activities we can invite them to. When we know more about someone, we can touch their interests and draw them out, providing purpose and fulfillment.
So many people throughout the world grew up with involvement in the outdoors. That might be hiking, biking, mowing the lawn, planting flowers or being part of an actual farm. Whatever they did, inviting them to join an activity outside, tend to a raise bed, feel and smell growing herbs, the joy they can experience is limited only by our imaginations.
But how to get started? Well, try something as simple as taking the person outside into the sun or a shaded area and talk about the flowers that are beginning to bloom, their colors, whether they have a scent or how that flower makes the person feel; maybe even put fresh tilled soil in his/her hands and let them enjoy the texture and reminisce about spring.
If the person is willing, you can set up a “Potting Station” where you have all the supplies available to put plants into pots or if you have a raised garden bed you have the tools ready for planting. You can provide simple step-by-step directions to help the person get started and then see where s/he goes on his/her own.
Scented Jars Activity
To help you be even more creative, we have included our Scented Jars activity for persons who need more assistance or are unable to participate in other ways. This activity is wonderful for cooking and including fresh herbs or other flowers from the garden to involve the senses and help connect in new and fun ways. You will find instructions for performing the activity, the materials you will need and picture cards that will help make the activity even more relatable. AND… you can modify the activity to meet the needs of the person you are with by adding pictures or instructions or lessening them. Whatever you need to do to make your time together a success… YOU BOTH CAN DO IT TOGETHER!
As you get outside, get your hands dirty and love what Mother Nature is sharing. Take photos to capture the fun everyone is having. If you are led, please share them with us, we would love to see how you are making connections!