The Dunedin Group organizes hundreds of flower bouquets for Alzheimer’s patients

The floral arrangements will be found in the hospital rooms of people battling dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

DUNEDIN, Fla – Joan Pauwels has worked in the florist industry for nearly four decades. Good luck asking her to name her favorite flower.

“I love them all,” she said with a smile while holding a small bouquet.

His experienced fingers must have worked a little faster than usual Tuesday morning. Now volunteer with Random acts of flowers, Pauwels was among a group of women at a small flower shop in Dunedin who had to work twice to pump half of the 800 bouquets needed this week for special hospital patients in the area.

” It’s horrible. Horrible. It takes out the spirit and takes out the person, ”Dell Kosfeld said of Alzheimer’s disease. “The stress of family and friends is a terrible and terrible disease.”

The floral arrangements will be found in the hospital rooms of people battling dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. More than 5.7 million Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Many Random Acts of Flowers volunteers have loved ones in this fight.

“Someone told me her mom was in the hospital and my name was on the arrangement and I was like, ‘Oh! It was cool, ”said Ellen Bauer, whose mother, June, has struggled with dementia for four years.

Judith Overcash’s friend started showing signs of memory loss at age 55. Now, at 68, she is in a closed facility.

“It’s very sad,” said Overcash, sitting in front of a table full of colorful vases. “You think, ‘I hope this never happens to me.’ “

The Alzheimer’s Random Acts of Flowers initiative lines up with Thursday’s summer solstice. It is the longest day of the year, with the most sun during the 24 hour period. The group decided to celebrate with what they called “The Brightest Week”, offering up to 5,000 bouquets nationwide.

Locally, 800 bouquets will be delivered to 22 locations in the Tampa Bay area. The arrangements will end up on the bedside tables of people who really need to cheer up.

“With some of the people, they won’t even know what it’s about,” Overcash said. “But, we’ll find out. “

Research has shown that a familiar scent can bring back memories of the past. A study by Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones of Rutgers University “finds that flowers decrease depression, encourage companionship and enrich short-term memories in older people.”

Sunny Biden of the Pat Summitt Foundation, which fights against Alzheimer’s disease, says “with Alzheimer’s disease the first thing to do is short-term memory, so bring somebody flowers… there is something nostalgic in a flower that reminds someone of a memory. So if someone gets a certain flower that they liked, it might remind them of a childhood memory that they are more inclined to remember than a short-term memory.

In July 2007, RAF founder Larsen Jay was in a near fatal accident. The support he received from visitors and flower arrangements helped him to recover for a long time. While in the hospital, Larsen noticed how many of his fellow patients had no visitors or flowers and made the RAF’s first delivery – reusing its flowers and delivering them to other patients. Random Acts of Flowers gives hope to Knoxville, Tampa Bay, Chicago and Indianapolis. Since its launch in 2008, the RAF has reused more than 347,000 vases and brought hope to over 330,000 vulnerable community members.

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