Many seniors these days have made the decision to remain in their own home, rather than move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. This seems like the obvious choice when presented with those options, because nobody wants to move into a nursing home at any age. Unfortunately, many seniors who choose to live independently struggle with feelings of isolation or depression due to a lack of quality social interaction. There are several ways to deal with these feelings, like hiring an in-home senior care companionship service, but one you may not have thought of is starting a garden.
Research shows that seniors who have access to a garden have a much higher quality of life overall. Gardens are beneficial for people of all ages, but they are especially therapeutic for seniors.
Often seniors that live at home don’t get to go out to places all that often, due to difficulty driving, or trouble walking long distances. Having an outdoor space that you can call your own is wonderful for taking short walks, or even sitting and reading. The University of Michigan did a study that showed that going outside and being under the influence of plants can increase memory retention up to 20%. For seniors suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, gardens can be a wonderful way to help keep the mind active and sharp.
Having plants inside the house can also help to boost memory, as well as purify the air inside the home. The effects on memory are not quite as strong for indoor plants, but there are still noticeable mental health benefits. Another benefit of having indoor plants is the recurring task of watering. Easy tasks like this help to keep senior’s minds engaged while they are living at home. This routine can help with memory, and it gives seniors living at home something to do, which can break up the monotony of living alone.
For many seniors the prospect of taking care of a whole garden is a bit daunting, but with the help of a professional gardener, and the right set up, it can be easy to maintain. When sprinklers are placed at proper intervals, watering can be as simple as turning the spigot on and off. Since bending and kneeling are fairly difficult for seniors, especially seniors with arthritis, it’s best to hire a gardener or ask a family member to take care of planting the garden. Once everything is planted and the sprinklers are set up, the rest of the maintenance can be fairly easy.
Gardens that are set up for the express purpose of being a natural refuge for seniors living at home should always have a quiet shaded seating area. This creates a quiet space for reflection, and can be a great place to read, or take a nap, provided you have the right kind of chair. These outdoor refuge areas give seniors a place to go where they can feel connected with nature and the rest of the world. It can be very depressing feeling trapped inside the house due to your mobility restrictions.
Gardens offer a wide variety of benefits to seniors living at home. I’ve detailed a couple of the ways that a garden can increase quality of life, but there are many more ways that I don’t have time to mention here. Everyone responds to gardens differently, and the plants you choose for your garden can make all the difference. Putting your favorite plants in your garden gives you an extra special way to connect with nature in a very personal way.
If you have elderly loved ones who are living at home, bring up the idea of starting a garden with them. You’ll be amazed at the benefits it can provide!