Therapeutic Horticulture Program at Brooke Grove Retirement Village Assisted Living- Montgomery County, Maryland
Master Gardeners visit Brooke Grove Retirement Village Assisted Living residents once a month. The goal of their visits is to provide a life-enriching, sensory-stimulating, group experience for these residents through hands-on garden and nature-related activities with educational opportunities.
Many of the residents here are memory-impaired with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Some also have limited mobility, fine and gross motor skill deficits, and/or sensory deficits. Yet, all are able to participate in and benefit from these programs.
Sample projects include:
Butterflies –discussion of butterfly life cycle, and making of small arrangements of butterfly-attracting flowers
Salad Box Gardening – planting of seeds and seedlings, watering and harvesting of greens
Apples – discussion of different kind s of apples, tasting, and apple print-making
Winter Evergreens – discussion of characteristics, and making of holiday centerpieces
Projects are adapted to what residents can do giving each a feeling of being successful, useful and productive. Stimulation is provided for all senses. When sensory deficits are present, strengths are drawn from, i.e. when vision is impaired the sense of smell or touch is stimulated. Plant materials for the programs are obtained from the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden and Master Gardeners’ home gardens. Recyclables are used for containers whenever possible.
Residents have shown great delight in hearing about and working with fresh flowers and natural materials. Those who can remember have commented over and over how they look forward to this, their favorite activity. (For most, this is their only direct contact with nature.) Positive social interactions among group members are frequently observed, and attendance has increased from 12 to almost 30 residents due to the successful engagement of participants and the enjoyment expressed by them.
Written by JoAnn Mueller, Montgomery County, MD Master Gardener
To learn more about the Montgomery County Master Gardener visit their webpage at http://mastergardener.umd.edu/local/Montgomery/index.cfm