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Gardening blooms with benefits for seniors

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Gardening can be the perfect exercise for seniors: “By spending 2.5 hours a week gardening, seniors can reduce their risk for multiple health issues and reduce social isolation,” according to the senior living resource, A Place for Mom.

It offers gardening tips for beginners, including knowing how much sun your garden receives (and choosing plants accordingly), and how often you will need to water your plants. A simple project to get started includes planting herbs in window boxes or patio containers.

Many senior living communities offer gardening activities for their residents. Experts acknowledge the positive effects of being in nature, plus moving and bending to increase muscle coordination, balance skills, and manage stress. Activating the senses to smell the fragrant flowers, see the vivid colors, and feel the rich earth with other people boosts mood, too.

Other benefits? Some senior experts claim that spending time in nature can reduce how much people perceive pain. Gardening can also help improve attention span and the ability to concentrate.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Horticulture therapy can even lower the amount of needed medications. Therapeutic gardens offer elderly residents the choice of leaving the residential unit for a natural setting designed to promote exercise and stimulate the senses. It also promotes positive reminiscences, decreases stress, and stabilizes sleep wake cycles.

“Some studies have reported that having free access to an outdoor area may reduce some agitated behaviors and falls in dementia residents.”

The NIH adds, “Horticulture has been used therapeutically since ancient times. Also, in the 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, considered to be the Father of American Psychiatry in the U.S., reported that garden settings had curative benefits for people with mental illness.”

Fox Point : 3300 Charles J. Miler Memorial Highway, McHenry, IL 60050 : 815.322.7166 : http://www.seniorlifestyles.com/foxpoint.

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