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The Evergreen Experience: Farm Based Therapy for People with Memory Loss

Every Saturday morning you can see people with memory loss and their caregivers at Peace Ranch in Traverse City – making The Evergreen Experience part of their weekend plans.

“It not only creates a sense of community but really helps people focus on what they’re still able to do and what they can give back,” says leader Erin Mobley.

Here at Peace Ranch they do nature-based activities, whether that be feeding a horse, planting marigolds or painting bird houses. They are getting hands-on learning experiences with new experiences and activities each week, giving people the chance to get out of the house and into the sun.

“A big problem with this population is isolation. People not getting out feeling afraid to be a part of the community and so I want to encourage people to come out and be a part of the community and find connections with other people. I think that’s one of the most important things,” says Erin Mobley.

Both caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss are benefiting from this program. It gives them a community and support system.

Jack Hagan says, “It helps keep us engaged in the community and with other people with Alzheimer’s and other caregivers and that socialization is good for both of us.”

Caring for someone with memory loss is anything but easy. Joan Fitzgibbon explains, “It’s a full time job. You have to be a problem solver. Things he could do yesterday he might not be able to do today.”

Joan’s husband Pat has Alzheimer’s. They have traveled the world and experienced all that nature has to offer. After 45 years of marriage, this “full time job” is well worth it. “I think it’s my job and the job of everyone that knows my husband to help him have a full life as long as he can,” says Joan Fitzgibbon.

If you or someone you know may be interested in joining this program, for more information.

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