There’s nothing like getting out into the garden. You can feel the immediate benefits of spending time in the great outdoors, enjoying the beauty of plants and flowers, connecting with nature and getting your hands dirty doing something productive. Gardening nourishes our minds, bodies and souls – and it’s equally important for people living in aged care environments.
Most aged care facilities provide gardens of some kind, and their benefits are not just aesthetic. Gardening can bring many important health and wellbeing benefits to residents of aged care facilities, including:
- Opportunities for physical exercise
- Increased mobility and flexibility
- Greater use of all motor skills and cognitive functions
- Improved endurance and strength
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Increased social connections
- Opportunities to learn new skills
- Allows older people to feel valued by being able to invest in and add benefit to the community
- Time to relax and enjoy peace and quiet
- Opportunities to connect with nature
- Restorative mental benefits
- Provision of multi-sensory experiences, involving the sights, smells and sounds of nature
- Provides stimulation and interest in nature and the outdoors
- Can provide home-grown produce
- Helps prevent aging diseases such as osteoporosis
- Allows access to natural light and vitamin D
- Allows aged care residents to feel more at home
Gardening has many health and therapeutic benefits for older people, and is a stimulating physical activity that many older people can continue to enjoy even after they’ve entered residential care. Leaving your own home or garden behind to move to a residential environment can cause people to feel a sense of loss, especially as many of today’s elderly people grew up working on farms or growing food in their backyards. Gardening is often a way of life for large numbers of older people, and it’s important for both their physical and mental health that they can continue their involvement with gardens in some way. Any gardener will tell you that they feel more alive and purposeful after a session spent amongst the shrubs and flowers, and even just being able to see a garden leads to enhanced feelings of wellbeing.
Here at Finley, our residents enjoy the gorgeous gardens surrounding the facility, and are encouraged to walk in and use the gardens to their heart’s content. Many of our residents continue to grow flowers and vegetables in pots, and happily harvest their produce for use in meals. Those unable to get out and about can view the beautiful gardens through their windows and enjoy watching the changes that happen through the different seasons in the garden. Carefully planned outdoor environments are extremely valuable for people with dementia and other conditions, as this allows them to maintain independence and mobility.
But gardening is just one strategy that facilities such as Finley use to improve the physical and psychological health of their residents. To read more about how aged care facilities can improve the quality of life for older Australians, click here.
And if you’re interested in finding out more about the services offered by Finley, click here.