Portland garden being recognized for helping those with memory d - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland garden being recognized for helping those with memory disorders

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Gardens are often considered a source of peace for many, but one Portland garden is now also being recognized for its ability to help people with memory disorders.

The Portland Memory Garden is said to be one of eight memory gardens in the U.S., and one of only two built on public land. It is located off Southeast 104th Avenue and Southeast Powell Boulevard.

"Many of these people coming to the garden are from that generation where they needed to garden," said volunteer Patty Cassidy. "Gardening and growing food was a part of their life."

Cassidy is also president of the Friends of the Portland Memory Garden. She's one of dozens of volunteers who spend their free time maintaining the sensory garden year-round.

The garden includes four seasons of plants and flowers in raised beds that have been chosen to stimulate the senses and to spark past memories, as well as provide a totally accessible circular pathway for seniors.

"I try to grow things in here that people are familiar with," said Cassidy. "Black-eyed Susan's are extremely old-fashioned, everyone knows those.  Also, red geraniums and lavender, lots of lavender."

Sometimes the aromas of certain herbs, or flowers trigger nostalgia in visitors. 

"Many times, seniors will smell for example sage, it's a powerful herb," said Cassidy. "They will remember that they cooked their turkey dinner with sage, or with the mint I give them. A lot of that recall has to do with what they eat."

For some the moment is fleeting, but still, it's time they remember.

"When they're living in these communities, they're in a room, or a hallway and they're not getting out," said Cassidy. "So, coming here and having a garden like this, is reacquainting them with the seasons. They remember the gardens they grew when they sit here."

The garden was a collaborative effort of the Oregon-Greater Idaho Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, American Society of Landscape Architects, Center of Design for an Aging Society, Portland State University/School of Urban Studies & Planning, Legacy Health Systems, and Portland Parks & Recreation.

During the summer, Optum also sponsors weekly classes in the garden for seniors.

For more information, visit the Friends of the Portland Memory Garden (FPMG) website at www.PortlandMemoryGarden.org 
or https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewPark&PropertyID=1202

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