Community Gardens Benefit Senior Living Residents

Posted by Senior Solutions Management Group on Aug 21, 2012 12:06:02 PM | 3 minute read

Community Gardens at Jamestowne Assisted Living in Kingston, TNOne of the most welcome trends in assisted living community design is the inclusion of edible community gardens as an integral part of the outdoor space. As a result, professional landscape design companies are increasingly including gardens in new senior living community design. Other communities are forming volunteer residence committees to create a vegetable/herb garden in their existing outdoor space.

Gardens are valuable for reasons that extend beyond simply providing fresh food. Sometimes called horticultural therapy (HT), the value of garden spaces is well-known and increasingly linked to wellness.

For example, rehabilitative care of hospitalized war veterans in the 1940’s and 1950’s included HT. Today, it is viewed as a valuable tool for enhancing overall well-being.

Benefits of Assisted Living Community Gardens:

  • Many seniors grew up with backyard gardens. Their presence in a senior living community can prompt pleasant memories of time spent harvesting tomatoes or picking fragrant herbs for dinner meals.
  • Garden clubs are a good activity choice for seniors who may have limited mobility but want to participate in an activity that is outdoors oriented.
  • Getting seniors outdoors so they enjoy the health benefits of sunshine is easier when the outdoor space includes a ‘destination’ such as an edible garden.
  • Food options at assisted living communities now include many more fresh fruits and vegetables because of their known health benefits. Further, dining room chefs increasingly seek locally-sourced produce, and what could be more local than the community’s own garden?
  • The scent of herbs or edible flowers provides a pleasing sensory experience. Also, some believe that an herb garden enhances healing of the mind, body and spirit.

Creating Community Gardens

When deciding on edible plants for your assisted living garden, research what grows well in your area. Landscape designers recommend several edible plant choices that thrive almost anywhere in the country. Nasturtiums provide edible flowers which are also beautiful and colorful. Rosemary makes an outstanding edible border, and its wonderful scent readily transfers to clothing upon contact. In addition, other  popular (and tasty) herb choices are lavender, thyme and basil.

Community Gardens at Jamestowne Senior Living in Kingston, TennesseeThe American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) champions barrier-free, therapeutic gardens that enable everyone to work, learn, and relax in the garden.

People with physical or cognitive challenges benefit from gardening experiences, says the AHTA. They recommend these design tips when creating a garden space:

  • Construct wide, gently graded wheelchair accessible entrances and paths.
  • Utilize raised beds and containers, making them easier to reach by those with mobility problems.
  • Adapt tools to turn a disability into an ability.
  • Create sensory-stimulation environments with plants selected for fragrance, texture and color.
  • Utilize accessible greenhouses that bring the garden indoors for year-round enjoyment.

Community gardens can increase your loved one’s sense of well-being and happiness, so be sure to check out the outdoor space when you are evaluating communities for your mom or dad. What kind of edible plants would you use in your garden?

Want to ensure your loved one can enjoy the beautiful outdoors?

Assisted living and independent living can be a rewarding and positive experience for seniors, and a community garden can play a big part in enhancing happiness. Learn how we've combined world-class care with the best practices in assisted living:

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