Researchers found that cognitive function was ‘significantly higher’ and apathy levels were lowered in the 10-week project, running alongside a control group.
Two groups of people with dementia were involved in the small, randomised trial that involved weekly gardening and plant cooking sessions for one group, and puzzles, singing and calisthenics for the other.
‘Horticultural therapy reduces apathy, possibly by providing participants with an appropriate and attractive external stimulus,’ reported researchers.
However, improvements were not significantly sustained three months later.
In all, 141 people with dementia took part in the research and were randomly assigned to either group. Although the activities took place in a group setting, one-to-one assistants ensured there was a focus on individuals throughout.
The study was carried out by Taizhou University in China.