Category: Social and Community Context

22 - The Evergreen Experience, LLC: A Green Care Farming Program for Dementia in the United States

Background


Green care farming for dementia (GCFD) has become a popular practice in Europe, but has not made its way to the United States. GCFD is a care model for individuals with memory loss that incorporates horticultural and farming based therapy practices in dementia care. Some green care farms have residents who live on the farm and others invite participants to come for a few hours a day. GCFD activities include planting, watering, harvesting fruits and vegetables, caring for farm animals, creating signs for plants, washing and preparing the produce to be sold or eaten, drying herbs, taking nature walks, etc. Green care farms are a safe space for individuals with memory loss that allows individuals to find purpose in their daily lives as they adjust to changes in their memory. Prior research in Europe has shown GCFD is associated with improvements in: sleep, opportunity for social contact, social identity and purpose, physical functioning, behavior (e.g. angry outbursts, physical aggression, agitation), daily fluid intake, and reduction in fall risk.


Purpose


Our report examines The Evergreen Experience an 8-week adult day program for individuals with early to mid-stage dementia that takes place at a farm in Michigan. The program received startup funding from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health’s Innovation in Action competition, and launched in Summer 2017. The Evergreen Experience combines aspects of horticultural therapy, gardening, and sensory stimulation to keep older adults with dementia mentally, physically and socially active. The program met weekly at a local farm where participants were given individualized tasks based on their interests and abilities. Through a shared group setting, its intent was to create a strong, supportive network of peers, and provide meaningful and familiar activities to those living with dementia.


Analysis


This report will analyze The Evergreen Experience’s first season. It will outline recruitment strategies, program development, fundraising and a qualitative evaluation of the program using pre and post interviews with both caregivers and participants. It will discuss the overall strengths and challenges, which in turn will help to inform future GCFD programs in the United States. With the growing number of older adults in the United States, specifically in rural areas, The Evergreen Experience offers a unique approach to dementia care that allows older adults to lead purpose filled lives even after a dementia diagnosis. 


 

Melissa DAILY

Co-Founder
The Evergreen Experience, LLC
WASHINGTON

Melissa Daily received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan. She studied Health Behavior and Health Education. She is passionate about improving the lives of older adults with cognitive impairment.

Erica Goble

Co-Founder
The Evergreen Experience, LLC

Erica Goble received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan where she focused on the management of Human Services and Aging in Families and Society.

Ashley Miller

Co-Founder
The Evergreen Experience, LLC

Ashley is currently a second year Master’s student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health getting her MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan as well. Ashley has been interested in working with individuals with dementia since her Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when Ashley was very young. She believes that the Evergreen Experience is a unique way for individuals with dementia to connect with one another in a beautiful, interesting, and safe environment.

Allison Ewert

Co-Founder
The Evergreen Experience, LLC

Allison Ewert received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan where she was a Geriatric Scholarship Program Recipient. Her concentration focused on Interpersonal Practice, studying Aging in Families in Society.

Erin Mobley

Co-Founder
The Evergreen Experience, LLC

Erin graduated from the University of Michigan with a dual Master’s Degree in Public Health and Social Work in 2016. Since this time, she has been working at the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center as the Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator. Erin not only has experience and passion working with older adults and those with memory loss, but she also has a love of nature and green care farming allows her to combine her two passions.