The Impact of a Sensory Garden for People with Dementia


  • Haley Collins Clemson University
  • Marieke Van Puymbroeck Clemson University
  • Brent L. Hawkins Clemson University
  • Julie Vidotto Clemson University



Agitation, dementia, quality of life, recreational therapy, sensory garden


The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of sensory garden interventions on agitation and quality of life for people with dementia. The sensory garden consisted of plants that stimulated all the senses. Four people diagnosed with dementia residing in assisted living participated in the multiple treatment single-subject design (A1-B-BC-A2) study. Baseline phase A1 lasted two weeks, intervention B and BC were four weeks each, and return to baseline A2 was two weeks, for a total of 12 weeks. Intervention B was an indoor sensory garden, and intervention BC was an approximated outside sensory garden. The Agitated Behavior Mapping Instrument, Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory, and Dementia Quality of Life-Proxy were used to collect data. Data revealed positive trends following the sensory garden interventions on decreasing agitation and improving quality of life. Intervention B worked best for two participants and intervention BC for the remaining two participants. Applications to recreational therapy practice are provided. 

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Author Biographies

Haley Collins, Clemson University

Haley Collins, MS, CTRS

Clemson University August 2019

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Clemson University

Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Ph.D., CTRS, FDRT

Distinguished Professor in Health Innovation Research & Recreational Therapy Coordinator

Clemson University

Past-President, American Therapeutic Recreation Association

Brent L. Hawkins, Clemson University

Brent L. Hawkins, PhD, CTRS
Associate Professor, Recreational Therapy
Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management

Julie Vidotto, Clemson University

Julie Vidotto, EdD

Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Clemson University





Research Papers