Brooklyn Botanic Garden Reaches Out to Visitors with Dementia and Their Caregivers

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Reaches Out to Visitors with Dementia and Their Caregivers

Have you ever experienced the physical release of stress and anxiety as you breathe in fresh air during a walk in the woods or a stroll on a tree-lined street? You would be experiencing the people-plant connection” which evokes the health benefits we derive from spending time in nature.   Humans have an intuitive bond with nature that has roots in pre-historic times when our ancestors relied on plants for food, shelter, tools, medicine . . .  basically all the essentials for survival. 


Beyond survival, maintaining a garden and working with plants improves physical endurance, builds strength, and can lower your heart rate.   Experiencing nature such as hearing birds chirp, observing plants growing or marking the changes of the seasons can improve our emotional well-being, give us a positive outlook and a feeling of enthusiasm for the future.  For people with dementia, spending time in nature yields benefits to cognitive ability as well.  These benefits include improved short-term memory, increased concentration and problem solving ability.  Caregivers reap benefits as well as they get much needed respite from their sometimes stressful and isolating obligations.   


With this in mind, Brooklyn Botanic Garden created a special monthly Memory Tour for visitors with dementia and their caregivers.  The 90-minute seasonal highlights program provides participants with an afternoon in our beautiful urban oasis where plants are experienced through all the senses. Visitors enter a welcoming environment, socialize with others, and learn about plants Sometimes, connection someone has to a plant or flower can spark a fond reminiscence.  New memories are created and enjoyed after their visit to the Garden.  


Recently on a beautiful May afternoon, participants in our Memory Tour used their senses to explore tulips, daffodils and magnolias in their spring glory.  We compared the beautiful flower colors and diverse shapes. Participants remarked about the cool, crisp air and bright blue sky.   We all listened for sounds of nature such as birds and bees buzzing. We savored the smell of earth warming and the flowers’ perfume. At the end of our tour, participants gathered to enjoy a warm cup of peppermint herb tea while sharing their favorite part of the afternoon.  Before they left, they potted a plant to take home to nurture and to be a conversation starter about their visit to BBG. 


Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers Memory Tours monthly from September through May.  If you would like to get more information, contact Joanne D’Auria 781-623-7267  

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