People with dementia and their families are being encouraged to visit the Dementia: Understand Together campaign’s “Memories are Made of This” 1950s-themed show garden at Bord Bia’s Bloom 2019.
The garden festival takes place in Dublin’s Phoenix Park over the June bank holiday weekend from May 30 - June 3, and this particular gardening design comes against a backdrop of an estimated 502 people living with dementia in Longford.
The garden, named after the song made famous by 1950’s crooner, Dean Martin, aims to take people back in time to when gardens not only provided food for the soul, but food for the table too. It features a manicured formal space with box hedges and tea roses emblematic of the era, as well as a practical fruit and vegetable patch that provided much of what was on the menu in people’s homes at the time. For tips on stimulating reminiscence in the garden, visit the Dementia: Understand Together campaign website HERE.
The creation of award-winning designer, Robert Moore, the garden is sponsored by the HSE’s Dementia: Understand Together campaign. It is one of a wide range of initiatives being undertaken by the campaign to create an Ireland that embraces and includes people with dementia, and that displays solidarity with them and their families.
Many of the treasures from the 50s featured in the garden have been inspired by the reflections of members of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s Bloomfield Social Club in Dublin who engaged with the team in a series of workshops to inform the design and content elements of the garden.
Valuing What’s Remembered, Not What’s Forgotten
The initiative comes against a backdrop of more than 4,000 people developing dementia in Ireland each year. Indeed, it’s estimated that there are 55,000 people living with the condition here. That number is expected to more than double to 113,000 by 2036. Half a million of us have had a family member with dementia.
For Dr Suzanne Timmons, Clinical Lead of the HSE’s National Dementia Office, the garden is about facilitating the therapeutic benefits of reminiscence:
“The Dementia: Understand Together campaign has been part of the Bloom festival by Bord Bia for three years and this year our garden aims to build on the gardens that have gone before. Previously, we have emphasised the health and social benefits of getting out and about in the garden, and the focus this year is on stimulating reminiscence.
"For many people with dementia, recalling memories from years gone by is often easier than remembering more recent events. We also know that reminiscing has a positive effect on the quality of life of people with dementia. By stimulating the senses, whether it’s seeing a High Nelly bike, or smelling a rose, or touching a daisy, or listening to a GAA match on the radio, the aim is to whisk the person back to days of joy and contentment. It is about highlighting the importance and value of what is remembered and not what is forgotten.”
Celebrating Past Memories Today
For garden designer, Robert Moore, there will be something for everyone in this garden with lots of treasures from the 50s to stir up fond memories of yesteryear:
“This garden is about offering a person with dementia the opportunity to rekindle fond memories from their childhood garden of the 1950s, and celebrating these in the present. Whether it’s the scent of jasmine drifting through the garden or listening to Dean Martin on the wireless echoing around, it’s about enabling a person living with dementia to call to mind these memories. It’s about opening up opportunities for them to share their experiences and stories with others. The garden asks us to see the beauty and value of the individual, represented by all the different flowers, and reminds us to always see the person and not the condition they are living with.”
For more information on the Dementia: Understand Together campaign, including a service-finder detailing county-by-county dementia supports and services available, visit www.understandtogether.ie or Freephone 1800 341 341.