Ideas to help a person with dementia enjoy nature

HarrietD

Administrator
Staff member
Apr 29, 2014
6,954
0
London
Do you have any tips about enjoying nature that could be shared in the next issue of Dementia together magazine?

They shared a few ideas in their latest issue, including guides and apps to identify plants and birds, visits to parks, nature reserves and gardens, and products that bring the smells and sounds of nature indoors.

Now it's over to you - do you have any advice for supporting a person with dementia to continue contact with nature?

Share your ideas or tips (along with any pictures!) by the end of 5 September 2021 so the magazine can share them in their next issue.

Thanks everyone :)
 

nae sporran

Volunteer Host
Oct 29, 2014
8,258
0
Bristol
My partner grew up in the forest and knew all the Latin names for plants before all this. She is not really mobile, but I like nature walks with my camera. Just showing her some photos often brings back memories or gives her a moment of joy to see plants she just can't connect with. I have a photo of a snowdrop on the wall which she though was real, but she was always happy to see it as a reminder of better days.
 

Helly68

Registered User
Mar 12, 2018
865
0
My Mum was always a keen bird watcher. When she got to the point that she could not get out of a chair, the care home strung a line of bird feeders outside, where she could see. We often laughed at Fat Squirrel tightrope walking along it.
I also bought a very simple bird identification book - with large pictures and text. Even towards the end she could read some words and look at the pictures. When she first went into the home, I gave her a very cheap pair of binoculars, which were lightweight. Not much magnification, but she enjoyed wearing them on nature walks or looking out of the window and it would not have mattered if they got lost.
 

marionq

Registered User
Apr 24, 2013
6,415
0
Scotland
Yes binoculars for us both was an early purchase for me too. It got us out walking to nearby woods and a reason to stop and look and listen. We also liked to forage for brambles/blackberries, wild garlic, plums and apples. The first two years John had a lot of energy so keeping him occupied avoided the dreaded wandering which was the worst part of his illness.
 

LynneMcV

Volunteer Moderator
May 9, 2012
4,146
0
south-east London
When my husband was alive we found that being outside and enjoying nature was very therapeutic (for both of us!)
The names of flowers didn't matter much to my husband but he loved the bright colours, whether walking in a park, around a garden centre or around the block to admire local front gardens - all the vibrant colours filled him with joy.
Early morning walks also provided an opportunity to see intricate cobwebs picked out by dew and in the winter 'Jack Frost' patterns on car windows intrigued him. After a rainfall it was interesting to see the number of worms that had surfaced from underground and snails that had climbed to higher points.
During the warmer months my husband developed a huge passion and interest in the importance of bees so we made sure to always seek out areas where they were busiest, as well as growing things to encourage them into our own garden. While we were bee watching there was ample time to spot butterflies, ladybirds and the less appealing (to me) spiders too. The important thing was to take time to stand or sit and observe - what would be a 10 minute walk for others might take us 30 minutes or more - but we saw and shared so much during that time.
Going to the local ponds or lakes to watch the local wildlife was equally calming - especially as the swans glided by so gracefully or as ducks lined up and led their boisterous ducklings, whether on land or water.
On a more practical level my husband enjoyed helping to fill up the bird feeders to encourage his feathered friends into the garden - we also found a winning hobby in growing potatoes and strawberries, something he could do with minimal interference from me - he loved to see how Mother Nature had everything under control to provide him with food to put on the table.
One lady with dementia that I used to walk with relished the autumn time in particular. The beautiful colours of leaves on the trees filled her with awe. Although in her 70s, once the leaves dropped she would put on her wellies and kick her way through huge piles of them, enjoying the sound of them so crisp underfoot. Her face would light up with this simple pleasure that took her back to her carefree childhood days. She also liked to pick up a conker or two to take home and admire. It was a very tactile experience for her.
 
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Chrissy3

New member
Apr 1, 2020
4
0
UK
My partner grew up in the forest and knew all the Latin names for plants before all this. She is not really mobile, but I like nature walks with my camera. Just showing her some photos often brings back memories or gives her a moment of joy to see plants she just can't connect with. I have a photo of a snowdrop on the wall which she though was real, but she was always happy to see it as a reminder of better days.
Thank you for these excellent tips and ideas. We walk regularly and have done some of the suggested ideas but there are many in your comments as yet untried and so I shall be trying them out.
 

tamegazelle

Registered User
Mar 28, 2013
1
0
We have a large garden which is a big blessing as my husband finds great solace outside but is not comfortable leaving the environment he knows. He has become obsessed with birds' feathers which he finds and brings into the house where they lie about. I have filled a large shallow pot with earth and he now stands the feathers in and can study, admire and identify them. (The cat thinks they're interesting too.) It's a small idea but could be adapted with trays and stones and whatever else is giving pleasure at the moment.