Harvesting Health Effects of Three Types of Horticultural Therapy Activities for Persons with Dementia


Alzheimer’s disease; environmental press; holistic approaches; person-centered care; therapeutic activities


Providing meaningful activities for persons with dementia in institutional care settings challenges many activity staff. Horticultural therapy (HT), is one approach to addressing this challenge. HT involves the use of plant materials to achieve measurable treatment goals with special populations. The current exploratory study investigated differential responses of persons with dementia to three types of HT activities: cooking, crafts, and planting. We conducted HT activities three times per week at an adult day service (ADS) program over a nine-week period. Observational data for each participant were collected during HT and more traditional ADS activities at five-minute intervals using a modified Dementia Care Mapping (DCM) technique. Predominant behavior and affect of each timeframe were recorded for participants. High levels of positive affect and engagement were observed during all of the categories of HT activities, but no significant differences were found between the three categories of HT activities. While levels of engagement in the presented HT and traditional activities were similar, the percentage of time spent doing nothing was lower during HT than traditional activities. Affect was more positive during HT than traditional activities. The current study lends support to the value of HT activities for participants with dementia regardless of the HT modality employed.

Original Publication Citation

Gigliotti, C., Jarrott, S.J., & Yorgason, J.B. (2004). Harvesting health: Effects of three types of horticultural therapy activities for persons with dementia. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 3(2), 161-180. doi:10.1177/1471301204042335

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date







Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor