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Horticultural Therapy in Senior Living

As your senior loved one ages, they may struggle with physical, mental, and emotional health. Horticultural therapy, sometimes referred to as therapeutic gardening, can help your senior loved one stay healthy. 

Planting and maintaining a garden can be a rewarding experience for your senior. Gardening can give them something to look forward to each day. It is exciting and provides a sense of accomplishment to see something you planted blooming in front of you. 

Gardening gives seniors a chance to get some fresh air, be surrounded by the beauty of nature, exercise, and socialize with others. This is what makes horticultural therapy in senior living communities so beneficial. 

Without socialization, physical activity, and life-enrichment, seniors are at risk of social isolation, depression, and stress. 

Even more, studies have shown that those who participate in gardening, come in contact with Mycobacterium, a friendly soil bacteria that boosts the immune system. As seniors can have weaker immune systems, this is helpful in maintaining their health. 

Let’s explore even more horticultural therapy for seniors. 

Horticultural activities for Your Senior

There are many gardening activities that your senior loved one can engage in, with therapeutic benefits. 

Your senior may work on an outdoor garden during the warmer months, enjoying the different sounds, scents, and colors.

As the weather changes they can still reap the benefits by creating an indoor garden, or caring for flowers, herbs, or plants. 

No matter the season, your senior’s mood will improve as they take up gardening as a hobby. 

Simple activities for seniors

Below is a list of some popular activities that can be beneficial for seniors: 

  • Digging 
  • Planting 
  • Watering 
  • Harvesting food 
    • Make a salad
  • Crafts and hobbies
    • A terrarium
    • Paint pots
    • Turn a table into a garden
    • Soil art
    • Scrapbook with flower/leaf prints
  • Food preparation

Health and wellness benefits

The health and wellness benefits of horticultural therapy are endless. Gardening is a calming experience that improves the following areas of life: 

  • Mood
  • Memory 
  • Attention
  • Confidence
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Language skills
  • Ability to take on new tasks
  • Socialization
  • Sleep 
  • Quality of life

On top of the mental and emotional benefits, there are physical and physiological benefits as well. 

Horticultural therapy can be used as physical rehabilitation, allowing seniors to strengthen their muscles and improve balance, coordination, and endurance. 

Physiologically, seniors who spend more time in nature show improvements in their blood pressure, stress hormones, pain reduction, and heart rate. 

Whether your senior is outdoors enjoying a walk through their garden or maintaining a garden, their health will benefit. 

Dementia residents

Seniors with dementia can use gardening as an outlet too. Doing so decreases their behavioral symptoms, agitation, depression, and stress while giving them something meaningful to do. 

While there are no cures for Alzheimer’s or dementia, seniors that interact with plants show improvements in memory, communication, and cognitive functioning. 

While it may be difficult for your senior loved one to participate in some life-enrichment activities, therapeutic gardening is an activity they can learn, become passionate about, and gain confidence from. 

Therapeutic gardens

Some senior living communities are becoming wise to the benefits of therapeutic gardens and how they help their residents live a more meaningful life. 

With the healing elements of nature and sensory stimulation (fragrance, texture, taste, and sound), gardening is becoming more popular. 

At Kensington Park, you’ll find beautiful grounds where seniors can relax, bird watch, garden, or take a peaceful stroll. Its assisted living, independent living, memory care buildings sit on eight alluring acres. You can find oak trees, a calming stream, colorful raised garden beds, and many species of birds. 

Recognizing the therapeutic properties of planting new life, the grounds hold many trees in honor of residents who have passed away. We celebrate their life with a special tree planting ceremony for family members and friends. 

Recently, we planted a Crepe Myrtle for a resident who passed, as it was his favorite tree. His wife is still a resident with us and now has a beautiful memory of her husband on the grounds.  

Finding a comfortable and beautiful home for your senior loved one can make transitioning much easier for them and your family. While some seniors would prefer to age at home, this isn’t always the best option for them as their health declines. 

Especially when you find a caring senior community that will care for your family as they do their own. 

Life-enrichment and social engagement

When seniors age alone at home, they will likely suffer from depression, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and falls. 

When you can move them over to a community setting, they will have far more opportunities to socialize and improve their health. 

At a senior living community, the calendars are full of daily activities, giving seniors a chance to interact with others and build friendships. Even seniors who don’t participate every day have opportunities to socialize during meals in the dining room.

Activities may include therapeutic gardening, art projects, baking, music, yoga, and more. Each thought-out activity will promote peace, mindfulness, confidence, and chances to reduce your senior’s stress levels.

Kensington Park offers a garden club for their assisted living residents, three seasons of the year. Residents work with team members and dedicated volunteers on a weekly basis. Some volunteers are even alumni who have previously had family members stay with us.

In the Spring, they plant starter seeds in pots indoors, then transfer once weather is warmer

During the summer, the club grows fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and lots of herbs like basil, thyme, mint and more They then have “pick n taste” parties on the garden patio where the dining team prepares delicious dishes with the fresh harvest, like bruschetta and the residents get to enjoy. Any extra harvest is given to the kitchen to incorporate into meals

They finish up in the fall with more harvesting and preparation for the winter. 

Your senior loved one can have a better long-term quality of life when they have ways to enjoy their days, gain a sense of their accomplishments, and maintain peace of mind.  

Healthier Aging at Kensington Park

Making the best decision for your senior loved one is essential to you, which also makes it important to us at Kensington Park. 

Our assisted living community and memory care neighborhoods provide a safe and comfortable environment to help your senior feel right at home. 

While comfort is key, keeping your senior safe, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is one of our foremost concerns. This is why we have a team specializing in memory care, psychological and psychiatric services, and a licensed nurse on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

At Kensington Park, Our Promise is to love and care for your senior loved one just as we do our own family. If you’re interested in learning more about horticultural therapy and finding a safe and loving home for your senior loved one, please reach out to us at any time. We are here to answer your questions and support you.

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