Gardening is potentially a “long-term” memory for Princeton residents with dementia. Many residents grew up with a garden of their own, possibly out of necessity. We often hear about tasks they had to do as children such as going out to pick tomatoes from the garden. As they went through life, many of the residents continued gardening for joy. Salsa, spaghetti sauce, and canned vegetables are just a few things that many of the residents used to make. Gardening can spark memories of things they did as a young child, possibly collecting the vegetables, sneaking a bite of something before bringing it in, or, as an adult, canning recipes with family and friends.
It is beneficial to connect those with dementia to long-term memories as those are often the memories that they are still able to recall when prompted. For many of us, having a sense of who we are validates us and recalling those long-term memories assists those living with dementia in validating who they are and what they have done in their life. Recalling those memories often brings new life back into the resident again.
Here at The Princeton Senior Living Lee’s Summit, MO to celebrate and participate in National Gardening Month we’re planning for next year. Our memory care is not yet open, but here are some ideas I’ve come up with utilizing our garden in 2023: incorporating fresh vegetables into snack time and reminiscing about gardens; have families share with us canning recipes of their loved ones and make it; sensory boxes with small gardening tools – seed packets, garden gloves; planning out a springtime garden; having culinary make a meal out of fresh vegetables in front of the residents; and making our own “flower garden” on the wall (either painting flowers on canvas or making a flower craft then hanging them all up to create a garden look).