Dementia group enjoy gardening project

dementia gardening
Ella and Reg Tanner taking part in the gardening project.

Bundaberg people living with dementia and their carers enjoyed an innovative gardening project in the Botanic Gardens on Friday, recalling fond times as they planted snap dragons.

Reg Tanner and wife Ella were two of the participants in the joint Ozcare and Bundaberg Regional Council initiative.

Reg, 78, is now a full-time carer for Ella who has had dementia for five years.

“It’s been good because Ella is all excited,” Reg said.

“She’s enjoying herself.

“You can see in the mannerism in her face. That’s the main thing.”

The couple have been married for 55 years and Reg said the outings had become a highlight for the pair.

“When you’re home, there’s only the two of us at home, things can get a bit down as it were.

“Ella enjoys coming out. If she’s happy, I’m happy,” he said.

“So that means Ella and I do things together and we have always done things together so it makes her happy.”

The outing involved repotting snap dragons in to new pots which participants could decorate and take home.

Reg said gardening is one of Ella’s favourite activities.

“I do all of the heavy gardening end of it and she makes sure the pots are watered.

“She’s really interested in that.”

Bundaberg Regional Council parks portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said staff had organised the activity.

“We are pleased to be able to support Ozcare in this initiative which we hope will make sure people living with dementia and their carers are engaged with these public spaces,” Cr Honor said.

“We have 350 parks, gardens and open spaces in the council area and it is really important for people living with dementia and their carers to feel welcome to use them.

“We hope this event will remind participants of fond memories and will also encourage them to use their fine motor skills.”

Reg said the outings were valuable for both Ella and himself as carer.

“We get to know one another, Ella gets to know people.

“Even when she gets home sometimes, she remembers that she’s been out.

“You mention carers group in the next day or so and it picks her up a bit which is good.

“I’m glad that they have the carers’ association club.

“I’m the carer and it means that Ella gets the uplift and that means it helps me a lot.”

Ozcare Dementia Advisor Denise Hodder said up to 20 people living with dementia and their carers were taking part in the Living Well With Dementia program.

The program has included café visits, picnics and art gallery tours over the past 18 months with the gardening project a new addition.

“Gardening has many therapeutic benefits for everyone, but especially for people coping with the loss of memory and motor skills that can sometimes be part of having an illness like dementia,” Ms Hodder said.

“The process of planting a seedling is engaging for the senses, but it also allows them an opportunity to reminisce about memories of their own gardens or childhood gardens.

“Socialising is a very important way of slowing down the progress of illnesses like dementia.

“We have partnered with the Bundaberg Regional Council before by touring the art gallery with some of these people and their carers and experienced an incredible response.

“In some cases, people living with dementia who hardly spoke were sparked into conversations by seeing various works of art in the gallery.

“Perhaps the sensations of handling potting mix will evoke some wonderful memories for everyone taking part.”