What is Flowering Your Mind and what’s it all about?
Flowering Your Mind is an interactive book that combines research with practical suggestions and ideas to help the reader fully understand the flower-brain connection and learn to reap the cognitive and emotional benefits of creatively incorporating flowers into their lives.
Individuals who have dementia do not necessarily understand why they are attracted to a certain color or flower, but they are engaged. One reason is simply that flowers represent a positive visual stimuli for the brain making us smile. Another reason, colors easily evoke certain memories that they are often willing to share.
As a registered nurse and certified dementia professional specializing in the management of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, I write about the research done over the centuries using flowers and color to stimulate the positive effects both have on emotional health and cognitive function.
The book explores the brain’s response to the beauty flowers provide when combined with creative expression. Perhaps the benefits of adding flowers to one’s life holds at least one of the keys to maintaining a healthy, stimulated brain.
What initially inspired you to grapple with dementia?
I have worked in the field of dementia for over 30 years, primarily on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I am also a pressed floral artist and illustrator and was introduced to the concept of “Oshibana therapy” while teaching in Japan.
For many years I have taught dementia care strategies to caregivers, both family and professional care partners, and I found many people struggle with learning how to incorporate nonverbal communication strategies into their caregiving.
Flowers and color transcend language and provide the brain with a high level of sensory stimulation. Flowers are a positive visual stimuli for the brain that can be easily incorporated into any environment or activity. This prompted me to research the concept and to use flowers as a more natural way to stimulate brain health and positive emotions.
How has working on dementia-related art changed you?
The need to create is universal. It exists within each of us no matter what medium is chosen for expression. Engaging in any form of creative expression awakens and stimulates our senses to work in unison. When we create, every cell in our brain and body reacts to incoming sensory information. Our brain’s internal communication system comes alive with a flood of energy. It is this energy that connects us to the very essence of being alive—whether one has a cognitive impairment or not. As we search for quality and balance to our lives, finding ways to reduce stress and improve cognitive function are becoming increasingly more important to us.
How has the work been received?
Flowering the Mind as an interactive presentation, where I discuss the book in a lecture format and, when possible, bring flowers for participants to take home, has been received enthusiastically by persons with dementia, their caregivers, and others interested in brain health. (If fresh flowers are not available, silk flowers can have the same effect.) By adding in the additional information about color and what effects it too has on the brain, there are lots of lively discussions with audience participation.
This work is dedicated to: Flowering Your Mind is offered to anyone looking to understand how to improve brain health, cognition, and emotional well-being.