Gardens, Like Those at Autumn Leaves Assisted Living Memory Care Communities, May Help Reduce Symptoms in Residents with Dementia, a New Study Says

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At Autumn Leaves of Cinco Ranch, Texas, the garden offers therapeutic benefits for residents affected by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The memory care community’s garden keeps residents safe and active, while helping calm them and reducing dementia-related symptoms.

Assisted Living, Alzheimer's, Dementia and Memory Care

Autumn Leaves of Cinco Ranch

'A garden can take you back to a place that’s comfortable,' said Clair Jameson, Director of Life Engagement for Autumn Leaves. 'For people with dementia, gardening calls on familiar skills that may be retained.'

A new study revealed that gardens offer therapeutic benefits for people with dementia in assisted living or memory care senior communities.

That’s no surprise to the staff at Autumn Leaves of Cinco Ranch, a residential community devoted to caring for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia located in Katy, Texas.

“Many of our residents love to work in our garden,” said Amanda Bailey, Executive Director of Autumn Leaves of Cinco Ranch. “Gardening can be meditative, and that seems to offer a diversion from the confusion and disorientation that affect many people with memory loss.”

The study, published in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, found that outdoor spaces promote relaxation, encourage physical activity and reduce residents’ agitation. A team at the University of Exeter Medical School in England reviewed 17 different pieces of research and concluded that gardens may help stimulate memories for people with dementia.

With an estimated 340,000 people in Texas affected by Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, these findings are significant. About half of all seniors living in residential care have dementia or exhibit dementia symptoms. The findings also come at a time when caregivers are focusing on ways to improve dementia symptoms without the use of drugs.

“Some people with dementia exhibit symptoms like aggression and agitation, which can create a dangerous situation for the person as well as caregivers and family members,” said Chenita Young, RN, Director of Healthcare at Autumn Leaves of Cinco Ranch, “Rather than simply medicating the person, our first-line approach is always to try to redirect the person to an activity or an environment that might help calm them.”

Gardening involves gentle physical exercise, which can help reduce common dementia symptoms like poor appetite or disturbed sleep. Working in a garden also seems to tap into happy memories for many people – even when memory is otherwise impaired. The study also noted that gardens provide quiet spaces for visiting with family members.

“A garden can take you back to a place that’s comfortable,” said Clair Jameson, Director of Life Engagement for Autumn Leaves. “For people with dementia, gardening calls on familiar skills that may be retained. This calms residents while keeping them active and engaged.”

At an Autumn Leaves in another city, one resident was withdrawn and depressed when she first moved into the community. Once she discovered the garden, she spent many happy hours working there and became more active and verbally expressive – even offering suggestions to the community’s staff for making the garden more accessible to other residents.

Gardening can pose hazards to people with dementia, as the study pointed out, because dementia impairs judgment. Some people with dementia tend to wander and get lost, and that risk can arise any time they’re outdoors. At Autumn Leaves, the garden is located in an enclosed courtyard, giving freedom of movement to residents while keeping them safe and secure.

“Gardens play a key role in our community,” said Jameson. “They give our residents a calming setting and a chance to recall skills and habits they enjoyed in the past.”

Autumn Leaves of Cinco Ranch is located at 24024 Westheimer Parkway in Katy, Texas. For more information, call Rhonda Ferrell, Director of Sales and Marketing, at 281-392-2050 or visit

Family owned and operated memory care assisted living communities, Autumn Leaves® is dedicated to serving those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Autumn Leaves communities are committed to providing exceptionally high-quality care and research-based programs that allow for safe, secure, and active environments for its residents. An acknowledged leader in memory care, Autumn Leaves combines clinical expertise, knowledge of dementia, and heartfelt compassion to create the best possible care environment. Autumn Leaves currently operates 36 communities in 4 states with the ability to serve more than 1,800 residents. For more information, visit or call 888-662-8886.

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Kristin Dupont
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Assisted Living, Alzheimer's, Dementia and Memory CareAssisted Living, Alzheimer's, Dementia and Memory Care