Earlier this year some residents of Moorings Park Grey Oaks participated in an event called “Nutrition Through The Senses.” During the event, the residents had the opportunity to make -- and then bake -- their own bread. And once out of the oven, everyone was able to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
According to Moorings Park at Grey Oaks’ registered dietitian, Gisela Bouvier, food is highly connected to memory, and as the residents made their bread and the scent of it baking filled the kitchen, it was hoped they would reminisce of a fond memory through the power of food.
Now some residents of the Life Plan community are participating in a therapeutic sensory garden and horticulture therapy program thanks to the efforts of Seattle-based Eldergrow. It’s the only one of its kind in Southwest Florida.
Growing herbs in the mobile garden is a year-round activity. It’s like bringing nature indoors, with a tasty reward available after every successful growing period.
The therapeutic horticulture has many benefits including, it stimulates all five senses and memory, its documented to reduce dementia risk factors by 36 percent, it improves motor skills, self-esteem and sleep, it reduces agitation in those living with dementia, and it purifies the air, calms the mind, and elevates mood.
To assure residents have a positive experience working the soil and planting the herbs, only premium nontoxic plants and organic soil is used. As for the cart itself, with its custom grow light, it was handcrafted by disabled veterans and people living with disabilities.
Although the mobile herb garden is relatively new at Moorings Park at Grey Oaks, it has proven very popular at other Life Plan communities throughout the country.
“We are thrilled to bring Eldergrow’s therapeutic garden programming to our residents, said Jordan Scardigno, Executive Director of Moorings Park at Grey Oaks. “The garden will give residents the opportunity to create something with their own hands, giving them a sense of pride as they use those same plants for activities such as crafts or culinary classes.”