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How Garden Therapy Helps Seniors

Senior citizens face all sorts of age-related problems, but garden therapy can help!

In this article, you’ll learn how garden therapy is a great tool for seniors.

Gardens have been used as therapy tools since ancient times, according to the American Horticultural Therapy Association.

In the 1800s, an American psychiatrist first studied the positive effect working in gardens had on mental illness patients.

Horticultural therapy gained wide credibility in the 1940s and 50s, when it was used to rehabilitate hospitalized war veterans.

Today, it’s used for a broad range of therapeutic settings.

Horticultural therapy, is often used to rehabilitate lost skills, improve memory, improve coordination and balance, lessen stress and build social interaction.

Planting, caring for plants and enjoying the results, is a holistic treatment for seniors.

Watching their plants grow, gives them a sense of empowerment that disappears with age.

For many seniors, age means an increased dependency on others.

But tending to plants, is an activity that gives them some control, leading to feelings of independence and accomplishment.

A 1997 study, showed that nursing home residents who were given a plant to care for, became happier and more active.

The residents were split into three groups. The first one received a plant to care for, the second group was told a nurse would care for the plant for them, and the third wasn’t given any plants.

After 18 months, half as many seniors from the first group died, compared to the other two groups, showing that plant care, can make a huge difference in quality of life.

Horticultural therapy also helps improve concentration and attention span.

The colors, textures, smells and sounds that come from working around nature, stimulates our attention spans.

This makes it easier to focus on certain tasks, like pruning.

This process has been shown to improve memory and reduce disorientation too!

Plants reduce physiological symptoms of stress, such as low energy, upset stomachs and chest pain.

Studies show that light gardening improves mood and lowers blood pressure.

Looking at plants even has a restorative effect, reversing the negative effects of stress.

As a result, seniors, who are commonly stressed about health, loneliness or grief, can find a sense of relief from working with plants.

Additionally, garden therapy gives seniors an outlet for light physical activity.

The risk of developing dementia increases, as seniors move around less and less.

Gardening gives them a reason to get out of the house and start moving.

It also makes for a great activity for building a strong community!

Community gardening gives residents of assisted living communities the opportunity to connect with others with similar interests.

Plus, any flowers, herbs, vegetables or fruits that come from the garden, can be shared with other members of the community.

This strengthens ties between residents and caregivers, cooks, visitors and each other.  

Even if the senior living community is located in an area that’s not plant-friendly, small farms can be started on the property.

For example, container farms offer a great solution for urban and desert land.

These farms are inside shipping containers and use technology to control the inside environment, such as air temperature and humidity.

This allows plants to grow in any season and in any climate!

Container farms are high yield too. So, if the farm is used for growing food crops, it doubles as a therapy tool and a food supply!

Another benefit of container farms, as a garden therapy tool for seniors, is the fact that they don’t use soil to grow.

That means the seniors don’t have to kneel or bend over while digging in the dirt.

This makes it more friendly for those with stiff joints, hurt backs or who use wheelchairs.

As you can see, garden therapy is a great tool for helping seniors.

Call us at 602-753-3469, or visit our website to find out how your senior living community can start container farming.