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Engaging persons with dementia in meaningful activities supports well-being; however, care staff are challenged to implement age- and ability-appropriate activities in a group setting.

  • ­This study compared a randomly assigned treatment group, who received horticultural therapy-based (HT-based) programming to a comparison group, who engaged in traditional activities (TA) programming, on engagement and affect. Horticultural therapy-based programming was implemented twice weekly at 4 treatment sites for 6 weeks, while regular TA were observed at comparison sites. Results revealed no differences between groups on affective domains. Levels of adaptive behaviour differed between the groups, with the treatment group demonstrating higher levels of active, passive, and other engagement and the comparison group demonstrating higher levels of self-engagement. The study concluded that ‘HT-based activities are a viable and desirable choice for dementia-care programs because they successfully engage groups of participants who are often difficult to engage in activities that elicit high levels of adaptive behaviour. Horticultural therapy-based programming also facilitates lower levels of self-engaging behaviours that may be indicative of distress and are often viewed as problematic by caregivers. These findings can inform practitioners and program administrators in their quest to identify programming that can successfully engage groups of individuals with dementia possessing a range of abilities. [Comparing Responses to Horticultural-Based and Traditional Activities in Dementia Care Programs – Jarrott et al, 2010 – American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias. 2010. 25(8) 657-665]
  • ­Wider research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed that ‘visiting gardens and gardening therapy’ had a beneficial impact in people with dementia. The paper reviewed 16 quantitative studies and found beneficial effects across behavioural, affective and cognitive areas. The areas showing the greatest impact were engagement, agitation, depression/mood, stress levels and reduced use of medication. [Murroni V, and others, (2021). Effectiveness of Therapeutic Gardens for People with Dementia: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 12;18(18) 9595]