Top tips for a dementia-friendly garden

As part of our ‘A Breath of Fresh Care’ ambition, we have pledged to offer every resident the opportunity to spend 60 minutes a week outside. Our residents benefit greatly from getting plenty of fresh air and exercise by taking advantage of the landscaped garden. Our outdoor space provides the therapeutic benefit of having a place to enjoy nature in the peace and quiet as well as the social aspect of being able to visit with friends and family. Here are our top tips on how to create a dementia-friendly garden: 

Stimulate senses– Using colourful plants with vivid scents will create sensory stimulation for visitors to enjoy. Scents can even occasionally prompt happy memories from the past. Incorporating plants that were popular during the 60s and 70s are more likely to trigger happy memories for people that are affected by dementia. You can also get creative by incorporating fragrances that are well-known to be soothing such as lavender and jasmine, to create a peaceful sanctuary. 

Avoid confusion– For larger gardens, make sure no paths come to a dead-end or take a sudden change of direction. All garden paths should be circular, easy to follow, and finish where they started to avoid any confusion. Also be wary of including contrasting coloured or patterned paths as these can give the false impression of steps or obstacles which could cause trips or falls. 

Be accessible– Use raised flower beds so that people with less mobility don’t have to bend over to view the plants up close and they can still get involved with the gardening. Paths should also be wide enough to fit a wheelchair or for two people to walk along together so that people can be accompanied by a friend, relative or carer. Some people may enjoy being in the sun, but others may prefer the shade so offer space and seating for both options.

Take advantage of nature– Include bird tables and squirrel feeders in the garden so that visitors can relax and enjoy watching the local wildlife. This will add an element of excitement and fun to the relaxing garden. 

Take precautions– Avoid including poisonous and toxic plants in the garden. Use appropriate materials for paths that are more likely to be slip or trip free and there should be appropriate drainage to avoid slippages from rainwater.

With these tips you should be able to create the perfect, peaceful sanctuary that can be enjoyed by all including people with dementia.