The Beauty of Memory
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most frequent cause of dementia, and it affects nearly 500,000 in the UK. Dementia is a blanket term that incorporates several symptoms, including mood changes, memory loss and difficulties with reasoning and communication. These symptoms are triggered as a result of brain damage that can be caused by a number of conditions, including Alzheimer’s is a physical disease of the brain. Brain cells are killed as a result of a build-up of proteins in the structure of the brain. Additionally, key chemicals, which are necessary for successful message transmission within the brain, are also compromised in patients with Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses, more of the brain becomes affected, resulting in ever more severe symptoms.
While there are some umbrella indicators of Alzheimer’s, all patients are different and it’s essential to treat each as an individual. Symptoms vary from the almost invisibly mild to the severe, and it is thought that the disease can develop silently over a number of years before the first tell-tale signs present. Age is the most significant risk factor in the development of Alzheimer’s, although the disease is not restricted to the elderly. Genetics may play a part and research is ongoing into environmental influences. There is at present no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are several drug treatments that may slow down the progression of the disease or temporarily relieve the symptoms. In addition to conventional treatments, a compassionate and imaginative approach to the disease is essential.
The renowned garden designer Adam Frost (a six-time winner of Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show) has worked in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Society to create a beautiful garden at this year’s show. Time to Reflect was designed to celebrate the huge significance of memory. Spending time in the garden is a wonderfully serene experience. The garden mixes brightly coloured sun-loving flowers with a serene backdrop of woodland plants. This is a combination that evokes an English spring at its very best. Inspired by memories of his own childhood, Frost has created a wonderful, comforting oasis. The sound of water moving between two wildlife pools enhances the sense of serenity and closeness to nature.
Elderly patients suffering from the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s are often desperate to cling on to precious recollections of their past. Our memories are what give us a sense of self, and without them we can become lost. Adam Frost’s garden is a safe and fragrant place to reclaim some of these memories, and he has created a space with a tangible sense of nostalgia. Time to Reflect is the result of more than a year of planning and the hard work of Frost, plus the eleven Homebase Garden Academy students that worked alongside him, resulted in an evocative and fragrant garden that appeals to all the senses. It is the perfect place for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their carers to take some precious time out to relax and reflect.