Across the Fence

with Ann Brooke

Gardens for people with Alzheimers


Plants have healing properties

Some brilliant horticultural therapist once put a bus shelter in a garden designed for an urban residential facility for patients with Alzheimers. The idea was that it was a familiar sight for the residents, and therefore comforting, and that if they wandered outside it would encourage them to stay put until one of the staff came to find them.

Since then, bus shelters, mailboxes, and other artifacts of city life have become standard furnishing for such gardens. Simple circular paths (can’t get lost), without too many twists and turns (too confusing) ;  nothing sharp-edged or harsh; nothing toxic (patients often put things in their mouths); familiar plants; no threatening shadows or dark areas – these are some of the considerations in such a garden.

Research identifies behavioral modification, medication, and a therapeutic environment as the three necessary factors in treating Alzheimers. Interior design and landscape design, carefully planned and executed, can greatly reduce the anxiety and confusion associated with Alzheimers.

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