Gardening with Disabilities: Gardening for the Memory Impaired

| 6/9/2011 3:45:20 PM

Susan HoysagkSusan Hoysagk is a seasoned nurse who, when not busy "nursing it up," can be found gardening, experimental cooking with fresh organic herbs and veggies from her garden, reading, writing and rearranging her yarn stash.

Nothing can be done except little by little. ~Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867, French poet)  

As in life, this quote is especially apropos in the garden. Planning, purchasing, planting, watering, nurturing and harvesting all are done one step at a time; sometimes piece by piece. This is why gardening for those with disabilities is something possible regardless of disability or age.  

Disabilities can be physical, mental, developmental, cognitive, emotional or sensory (or all/some of these). There is just some type of limiting function that keeps a person from participating in activities of daily living and, most importantly, enjoying life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than a billion people in our world experience some type of disability (about 15 percent of the population). I think there are even more than that.  

While I am spitting out numbers, (they put things into perspective for me, at least), the umbrella diagnosis of dementia affects approximately 4-5 million just in the United States. In the past we called it senility and thought it to be normal as we aged. Now we know different although scientists still do not know all the “whys” of what causes these changes.  

 Shoe tying  
Tying shoes is one example of procedural memory. Photo By tableatny/Courtesy Flickr.