Stimulating the Senses, Stimulating Memories

by Steve Whitaker

Touch, hearing and taste are powerful memory triggers. Recently, the alluring aroma of freshly-baked pumpkin pie wafting through The Arbor at Wesley Homes Lea Hill was enough to cause one non-verbal residents with advanced stage dementia to deeply inhale and announce, “That’s delicious! That is lovely!”

The pumpkin pie was a product of the Memory Care Pumpkin Patch located in the courtyard of The Arbor. The pumpkin patch came to fruition through a partnership between Wesley Homes and Mosby Farms, a local and organic farm in Auburn.

“I reached out to Mosby Farms, and they graciously accepted my wild idea to create a Memory Care Pumpkin Patch,” recalled Carla Lopez-Wilkerson, Activity Coordinator at The Arbor. “It was a great community-building experience.”

Mosby Farms is a small family-owned farm located in the heart of the Green River Valley, just outside Auburn. Mosby Farms generously provided sweet sugar pie pumpkin cuttings, seedlings of butternut squash, Queen’s Table acorn squash and kale as well as organic mulch that included aromatic pine needles, which smelled fabulous to Carla!

Jenn Djambazov and her assistant, Jillian, from Mosby Farms provided the elbow-grease by filling the planter tables with mulch and planting the cuttings and seedlings. There were many wondrous and tasty gifts produced by the garden. Carla listed some delicious recipes that represented the season perfectly: parmesan roasted acorn squash, pumpkin butter, pumpkin milk shakes and homemade pumpkin pie.

The Memory Care Pumpkin Patch was a clear benefit to all residents. Some residents of The Arbor and those living on the second and third floors of The Commons simply enjoyed looking out their windows at the beautiful pumpkin patch. For some residents, the pumpkin patch inspired reminiscing and reminded people of the upcoming holiday season. Those with dementia benefited from walking, seeing, touching, cleaning, scraping, discussing, cooking and spicing the bounty of the harvest. Carla was impressed with the muscle-memory of The Arbor residents. Their hands knew exactly what to do.

The pumpkin patch eventually gave way to decking the halls and placing of the greens for the holiday season. Because the Memory Care Pumpkin Patch was such a success, there is an excellent chance that the beautiful displays and wonderful reminders of the fall season will return next year.

“We are so thankful to have Mosby Farms as our friends and neighbors,” said Carla. “Their generosity and talented farming hands made for a bountiful holiday season in The Arbor.”

Share this post