Recreational Therapy for Dementia-Related Symptoms in a Long-Term Care Setting: A Case Study


  • Kathryn Mitchell Clemson University
  • Marieke Van Puymbroeck Clemson University



Anxiety, case study, dementia, depression, long-term care, recreational therapy, therapeutic gardening


As the population ages, more individuals with dementia are admitted to long-term care (LTC) settings, uprooted from familiar routines and home environments. Therapeutic programming must prioritize the provision of opportunities for individualized leisure experiences to aid in this transition. This case study examines a recreational therapy-based, therapeutic gardening treatment for a 76-year-old female with dementia presenting with behavioral disturbances, depression, anxiety, and difficulty acclimating to LTC. Over six weeks, the resident participated in 40- to 60-minute therapeutic gardening sessions three to four times per week to improve mood, decrease behavioral disturbances, and improve acclimation to the facility. By discharge, the resident met each treatment goal and significantly decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety as measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Implications for practice are discussed.

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Author Biographies

Kathryn Mitchell, Clemson University

Kathryn Mitchell, MS, CTRS is the Recreational Therapy & Activities Director at HCR ManorCare, a long-term care and sub-acute rehabilitation facility.

Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Clemson University

Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Ph.D., CTRS, FDRT is a Distinguished Professor and the Recreational Therapy Coordinator at Clemson University.





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