Radius Care Talk About How Gardens Can Help Dementia

Tuesday 24 March 2020, 6:48PM
By Beckie Wright

Gardens can be an effective treatment to help dementia sufferers – and you’ll find no more ardent advocate than Glenys Holden, of Radius St Joan’s in Hamilton. She has spearheaded the ongoing formation of a new sensory garden at the hospital-rest home in Fairfield – a garden already showing signs of proving the points therapists have been making for some time; that sensory gardens benefit patients, families and can have good clinical outcomes.

According to Britain’s Alzheimer’s Society, “Exercising in the garden helps develop the appetite, boosts energy levels and promotes a better night’s sleep, maintaining, as far as possible, existing skills that give pleasure and confidence.” Residents who spend time gardening have benefited from lower levels of agitation and aggression, decreased isolation, better orientation to place and time and improved social interactions.

The garden accommodates its own bowling green – laid with former hockey turf donated by St Paul’s Collegiate – on which Holden says the residents get, “very, very competitive”.

So far, two of the garden boxes have been given over to flowers and Holden thinks some of the rest will be given over to herbs and/or vegetables. “It’s up to the residents,” she says. “This is their home – it’s not a hospital or a clinical area to them; it’s where they live and we want them to shape it.”

The garden is also a boon for families, many of whom are happy with the effect of the garden on their loved ones.  After decades of sterile buildings designed to reduce the risk of infection, many hospitals and other healthcare facilities are going back hundreds of years to when Western and Asian cultures built gardens into their plans to aid wellbeing.

 Ulrich again, in a review, “Evidence from studies of a number of different hospitals and diverse categories of patients…strongly suggests that the presence of nature - indoor and outdoor gardens, plants, window views of nature - increases both patient and family satisfaction.”

Holden says she has already seen the effect on family members, some of whom now say things like, ‘Mum, you love sunflowers; why don’t we bring some and you plant them? Now Holden says she is also hoping for a gazebo in the garden to provide shade and says she hopes the Radius creed of “Exceptional care, exceptional people” prompts Radius founder, Brian Cree, to help with that, so for more information on rest homes Auckland, aged care Auckland and aged care providers NZ please go to .