SPRING IN THE ALZHEIMER’S GARDEN
Spring is here and it is so good to be able to spend time outside, especially wandering around the garden to look at all of the plants emerging after those cold winter months. I had the opportunity to visit an Alzheimer’s garden, last week, which was just completed. It was great to be able to sit in the garden and see the Redbud tree and the shrubs and perennials blooming. What was extra special was watching the residents interact with the garden. One gentleman walked around the perimeter of the garden and identified all of the plants. He thought all of the flowering shrubs were hydrangeas. While, in reality, they were Fragrant Spice Viburnum shrubs – it really did not matter. He was pleased to tell the aide walking with him that he had personally planted all of the plants in “his” garden.
This and so many other stories validate why the garden is vitally important for elders. The garden is an essential way for people to maintain a connection with the world around them – especially those with memory impairments. The plants are a tool for eliciting conversations and retrieving memories of what a person did in their own garden. The garden is a place where elders can smell the flowers; watch the birds, and all of those everyday things that we all too often take for granted.
I would like to hear other stories about how elders with Dementia are enjoying the garden. Please tell me what is happening during spring in your Alzheimer’s garden at email@example.comRead more
GARDENING IMPROVES NUTRITION FOR OLDER ADULTS
On the first day of spring, our thoughts turn to the garden and what we will be growing this year. Researchers at Texas A&M University suggest growing more fruit and vegetables. Over half of the older adults in the U.S. do not consume the recommended five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. The research study, “Growing Minds: Evaluating the Relationship between Gardening and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Older Adults”, shows that gardening can encourage elders to eat more of the good foods.
The study has shown that gardeners are more likely to eat more fruit and vegetables as compared to non-gardeners. In addition to improved eating habits, 80 percent of the older adults participating in the research study indicated that they feel better because of their gardening activities. Gardening programs have a positive effect for the health and quality of life for older adults.
To view an abstract of the research study, visit: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/20/4/711Read more
GREAT OUTDOORS INITIATIVE
According to the Audubon Society, there are approximately 48 million people who identify themselves as ‘birders’. There is even an App that is available for i-phones that can help you identify birds. This is all proof that we love nature and want to stay connected in many different ways.
The Audubon Society has been promoting a program to help people connect with nature. The Great Outdoors Initiative celebrates our nation’s spectacular landscapes and natural abundance.
“It’s not fattening. It can change your mood in a heartbeat. And it’s romantic. Taking nature personally is as American as freedom — and nature doesn’t belong to a party,” said David Yarnold, President & CEO of Audubon.
Visit the Audubon Society’s web site to learn more about the Great Outdoors Initiative and other bird related programs: http://birds.audubon.org/Read more
Vitamin D Deficiency in Older Adults
Reports indicate that Vitamin D deficiency is under-recognized and under treated for elders. This partly due to the fact that older adults spend more time indoors and have inadequate intake of Vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are one part of the solution; however, most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when ultra violet rays from sunshine meet the skin and trigger Vitamin D synthesis. Studies suggest that Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of the ‘bone-wasting’ disease Osteoporosis. Elders complaining of unexplained pain, injuries from falls, gait disorders may all be a result of a lack of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is easily remedied if we simply create more opportunities for elders to spend time outdoors. This applies to elders living in all communities, including senior communities, assisted living facilities and Alzheimer’s residences. Creating Therapeutic Gardens, walking paths, community vegetable gardens and other outdoor garden areas will encourage elders to venture outdoors. Spending time in sunlight is vital to their health and well-being. By providing benches, people spend more time outside and socialize. It also helps to include activities that people would find in their neighborhoods such as putting greens, bocce and croquet courts.
It is important to remember that the season of the year, the time of day, smog, and skin melatonin are among the factors that affect Vitamin D synthesis. Cloud cover can reduce the suns potential energy by 50%. Shade reduces Vitamin D intake by 60%. Even though we may enjoy sitting next to a sunny window, the sun’s radiation does not penetrate glass. It is estimated that between 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week is helpful for Vitamin D production. And the sunlight is absorbed best when the face, arms and legs are exposed without sunscreen. We need to create stimulating outdoor gardens and outdoor environments that encourage elders to spend more time outdoors in the sunshine – starting this spring!Read more
We are social beings. We like to be around other people. It is good for our health and it is known that people who socialize live longer. There are many places in which we interact with out friends and family and one of the best places is in the great outdoors.
The article in the Dec. 28 issue of the Wall Street Journal, “Making 2011 The Year of Great Relationships” by Elizabeth Bernstein indicates that being outdoors relieves stress. We know that access to nature helps us heal sooner, so, why not enjoy that next conversation outside. Combining the healing powers of nature with a walk in the park, a bike ride or even a sleigh ride in the snow will make us feel better overall.
Roger Ulrich, Ph.D. has defined nature as a ‘positive distraction’. Nature has the ability to help us focus and can improve our concentration. We can help reduce the distractions by turning off the cell phone, i-pod and other electronic devices. The sounds of nature will produce the soundtrack for the social break. Spending more time outdoors with others in 2011 will be one the best things we can do to begin the new year.
A link to the article can be found at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203731004576045721718177728.html?KEYWORDS=making+2011+the+year+of+great+relationshipsRead more