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Health Benefits of Horticulture Therapy

March 6, 2018 | Blog

One of the most common therapy programs offered in senior care is horticulture therapy because of the plethora of benefits it provides to older adults. Horticulture therapy has helped enhance the health of an individual’s mind, body, and spirit for many years. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, “The therapeutic benefits of garden environments have been documented since ancient times.” Some of the benefits of horticulture therapy include:

Improved Memory

One of the most common struggles that older adults face is memory loss. Horticulture therapy offers a simple yet effective means of combating memory loss. The American Horticultural Therapy Association also notes that horticultural therapy has been proven to help improve memory and general cognitive abilities. The increased functionality of the mind is one of the most invaluable benefits that comes from getting your hands dirty in the garden.

Increased Sense of Socialization

There is an innate need in humans for social interaction. One of the top reasons for health decline in older adults is social isolation. Horticulture therapy provides a fun way to promote socialization with your community. Director of Recreational Services at our Spring Hills Mount Vernon location, Zuleyma Montoya, mentions that, “By offering horticulture therapy, we are able to get our residents to come together to help build a beautiful garden. We find that most residents will either bring a friend with them to the garden and/or make new friends while they’re there. The increased socialization for our residents is one of the main reasons why we offer it as part of our Signature Touches program.”

Gardening Day at an Assisted Living Facilitiy

Better Motor Skills

Another struggle that many senior citizens face is a decline in their motor functionality. As any gardener will tell you, gardening is a physical activity. As such, it helps to not only halt a decline in motor skills but improves them as well. A study referenced in Pediatric Rehabilitation notes that “horticulture therapy mediates emotional, cognitive and/or sensory motor functional improvement.”

Dementia Management

Dementia is a challenging reality that countless people and families have to face everyday. However, there are strides you can make towards a better quality of life for those impacted by it. A recent study by Marianne Blake and Gary Mitchell concluded that “people living with dementia who engage in horticultural therapy exhibit an increased and sustained level of wellbeing.” Horticulture therapy helps keep an individual’s mind engaged and focused allowing for an improvement in cognitive skills of individuals diagnosed with dementia.

Increased Morale

Finally, gardening is a proven method to increase an individual’s overall mood and morale. A study posted by Psychology Today found that “horticulture therapy can improve mood state and reduce stress.” Getting your hands dirty and building something from scratch is an effective means to help provide older adults with an increased sense of purpose and accomplishment. The health and well-being of an individual begins with their mood and horticulture therapy is a simple way to improve morale exponentially.

The health benefits on the mind, body, and spirit of an older adult make horticulture therapy an invaluable aspect of an effective program for senior care. From something as simple as an increased morale to something as groundbreaking as dementia management, horticulture therapy offers a variety of benefits to an individual’s life. It also provides individuals with an enhanced sense of purpose and community. At Spring Hills Senior Communities, we are proud to offer horticulture therapy programs for our residents to reap all the benefits it has to offer.

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