A group of Cape Memory Care residents and staff recently enjoyed an outing to Maxwell’s farm in Cape Elizabeth to pick strawberries. The outing was part of the facility’s ‘Strawberry Fest’ celebrating the start of summer.
Like gardening, berry picking is a way for people with Alzheimer’s disease to maintain a connection with the world around them. It is also a tool for eliciting conversation and retrieving memories of an individual’s own berry picking or gardening experiences.
Cape Memory Care is a Woodlands Assisted Living community located in Cape Elizabeth that specializes in the care of people living with dementia disorders like Alzheimer’s. At communities focused on memory care, activities for residents are designed to allow them to enjoy a pleasant outing tailored to their differing abilities.
People living with Alzheimer’s, for example, often progress through seven stages of the disease. Many family members ask for help with day programs or specialized residential communities when their loved ones begin to suffer the moderate cognitive decline in stage 4, which the Alzheimers Association says might include
- Forgetfulness of recent events
- Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic — for example, counting backward from 100 by 7s
- Greater difficulty performing complex tasks, such as planning dinner for guests, paying bills or managing finances
- Forgetfulness about one’s own personal history
- Becoming moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations
Day programs and residential communities have specially trained staff members who understand the progression of Alzheimer’s and can help the resident feel comfortable, respected and engaged in every day activities, like gardening, picking strawberries or choosing a favorite dessert. At Cape Memory Care, following their strawberry outing the residents, family members and staff had a Bar-B-Q. The featured dessert? Strawberry shortcake of course.