Abe’s Garden® offers a variety of intentional engagement opportunities seven days a week and from morning through each evening. The opportunities are based upon the interests of residents and program participants, utilizing remaining abilities with consideration of reduced attention spans.
The individualized programming fosters freedom of choice, is purposeful, and reflective of activities that residents participated in during earlier phases of their lives. Abe’s Garden® has adopted Hearthstone Institute’s I’m Still Here ® approach to engagement. The approach includes the use of clubs, classes and committees that reflect the interests of those living in the community. For example, residents may choose to participate in, or lead, a cooking class, join the book club, or assume a leadership role in the film or volunteer service committees.
Additionally, use of the I’m Still Here approach enables engagement at all stages of cognitive and physical health.
Abe’s Garden® offerings include engagement activities in the following categories:
Connection to Nature
The intentionally scaled and landscaped central courtyard features an interactive water feature, fireplace, nature discovery area, raised garden beds, covered walking path and outdoor kitchen and grill.
The therapeutic benefits of connecting to nature are abundant; and this purposefully designed outdoor space provides:
- Gardening opportunities
- The health benefits of sunlight
- Exposure to the unique sights, sounds and smells of nature
- Exercise opportunities
- A sense of freedom and independence
Exercise and Movement
Physical activity and exercise have been found to reduce depression, enhance mental alertness, and improve physical function in people with dementia. Movement is also the basis of all non-verbal communication and becomes a primary source for self-expression as verbal communication decreases.
Abe’s Garden® offers daily structured exercise programs and walking groups. Residents are encouraged daily to walk outside and to engagement activities if they are able.
All residents are also encouraged to use the NuStep recumbent elliptical machine for strength and endurance training. The machine has a swivel wheelchair seat and adjustable resistance levels, and provides a low-impact, full-body workout that simulates the motion of walking.
Research has demonstrated that animal-assisted therapy increases engagement and decreases the frequency of agitation in individuals with dementia. The daily presence of a dog or a cat can evoke positive memories and encourage the joy that humans experience from leaning on, hugging and petting animals. Many of our residents and program participants had a pet at one time in their life, and Abe’s Garden® encourages a similar bond in this phase of life. Therefore, pets are an important component of the engagement program at Abe’s Garden®.
Our beloved pet family currently includes a dog, cat and numerous birds and fish.
Music is beneficial for those with dementia, and prevalent at Abe’s Garden®.
Each week, the campus welcomes visiting musicians. From college students to big bands and celebrities from a variety of music genres, performances enliven the day.
Additionally, Abe’s Garden®’s weekly Drum Club includes rhythm games, singalongs, creative improvisation, and history of drumming. Funded by the Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives grant to support evidence-based music initiatives, the program offers residents and The Club day program members the opportunity to enjoy creative and spontaneous formation of rhythms led by a facilitator.
Music engagement benefits include:
- Elevated mood
- Boosted socialization
- Increased movement / range of motion
- Encouraged self-expression
- Maintained cognitive functioning / attention
- Decreased wandering
- Reduced preservation (persistent repetition of a word, gesture, or act) and anxiety
Music & Memory
Abe’s Garden® is certified and provides Music & Memory ℠, a customized playlist program for people living with cognitive and physical challenges. Grounded in extensive neuroscience research and the subject of a new Brown University study funded by National Institute on Aging, Music & Memory enlivens memories, enabling participants to once again converse and socialize.
Personalized music can:
- Reduce reliance on anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, and/or pain medication by helping decrease depression, anxiety, and pain
- Awaken memories and improve quality of life
- Boost mood, influencing listeners to be more social and receptive to care and family visits
Residents and day program participants may also learn and enjoy Music DeLIGHTS® by Yamaha, a light-up follow-along keyboard system.
The lights and sound of this system can:
- Foster engagement
- Trigger memories
- Influence positive emotion
- Boost socialization
“One of our residents, who is 90 years old, took piano lessons as a child. We started with ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ and by the third session, she was able to play the song perfectly,” says Life Engagement Coordinator Chris Pawola. “Her memory of piano fingering came back to her and she started using all five fingers. She absolutely loved the experience.”