Dementia-Friendly Gardens

Bring the 1950s to your garden this summer and create a space for someone with dementia.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a disease that affects parts of the brain used for learning, memory and language. This can create difficulties in memorising, problem solving and everyday tasks as well as affecting mood and behaviour.

The HSE and the Alzheimer society of Ireland run a campaign known as “Dementia: Understand Together”. The aim of the campaign is to tackle the stigma and isolation associated with dementia and to create a greater awareness around the disease.

Source: Pixabay

Dementia Garden

As part of the Understand Together campaign, landscape designer Robert Moore designed a dementia-friendly garden that allows older people to reminisce and to embrace happy memories from their younger years.

Robert displayed his garden at Bloom 2019, and won the People’s Choice Award. The garden was largely influenced by the memories of people living with dementia around the gardens of their youth. Research shows that people living with dementia can often be better able to recall things from many years ago rather than things in the recent past.

The dementia-friendly garden is now a focal point of a public space in Arklow, and anyone who is out and about in the area can use it to relax, reminisce and to enjoy nature- particularly people with dementia and their carers.

This garden encourages people living with dementia to reminisce which is said to have a positive effect their quality of life. The senses a dementia-friendly garden such as Robert’s manages to stimulate can bring somebody with dementia right back to memories in their past full of joy and contentment.


  • Outdoor activities allow for cognitive stimulation and really engage the mind. Many gardening activities require a fair deal of attention and focus which can be really healthy.
  • It is important that someone suffering with dementia is given a change of scene from being constantly indoors. It can also help to reinforce in them their location and the time of day.
  • There are countless physical benefits associated with these gardens. People can get a lot of exercise done in the garden that they might not otherwise get, often without even realising it! Exposure to sunlight provides vitamin D and also helps in creating a more structured sleeping pattern
  • Getting outside in the garden is a fantastic way of spending time with others as you share a rewarding and enjoyable experience
  • Exposure to light, the breeze, and different forms of wildlife can help with multi-sensory stimulation, which Understand Together outlines below
Source: Reader’s Digest

Understand Together’s Tips for Stimulating Reminiscence

  1. Scent- The scent of a rose can often bring back fond memories. Why not plant a rose this summer?
  2. Sound- Add some noise to your garden in the form of music with a gramophone or some old CDs- even something as simple as wind chimes can relax somebody who is living with dementia.
  3. Taste- Growing your own fruit and veg is easy to do, and is fantastic for someone with dementia who may remember home growing fruit and veg themselves, or may just remember the taste of them.
  4. Sight- Adding some colour to your dementia-friendly garden can be easily done through garden gnomes or flamingos. Why not plant a hanging basket?  They’re a big hit with the elderly.
  5. Touch- What better way to take someone back in time than by stimulating their sense of touch? Picking flowers in the garden every so often can be a great exercise. Lupins, delphiniums, primulas and geraniums.
Source: Understand Together

Get in touch!

If we have inspired you to make your garden more dementia-friendly, let us know! Send us your photos or tag us @countrylifegc. We’d love to see them. Happy gardening!