Horticulture therapy growing in memory care centers

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on October 26, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 10:09 AM

MESQUITE, Texas – Growing numbers of experts say physical activity, like gardening, is transforming the lives of people with dementia. 

Christian Care Centers in Mesquite has created a sensory garden that stimulates sight, touch, smell and sound. And, they have hired a dirt therapist who helps organize activities as well as thoughts.

"We do a lot of reminiscing while we're doing this," says center director Mary Poole. "So they'll tell us about mom's garden, they're remember growing vegetables during the depression and when they get these things." 

Horticulture therapy is catching on in long-term care settings for a number of reasons: Tending to plants decreases anxiety and blood pressure, helps maintain motor skills, and gives residents purpose. 

"Because you're doing something that makes you happy," says Jackie Hinds, a resident. "But it might make someone else happy too." 

Health experts say it's no longer acceptable to allow memory care patients to sit idle in nursing homes. So, as people with Alzheimer’s live longer, gardening could bring fresh meaning to the word "vegetate."

 

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