Gardening is a useful hobby to have and one many seniors enjoy. For the seniors that built and tended to a garden in their backyard for years, leaving that behind may well be one of the difficult parts of transitioning to an assisted living facility.
You can ease their transition and provide a host of helpful health benefits besides by building a garden at your assisted living facility. If you’re hesitant because you know building a garden will require an upfront cost that feels hard to justify, just think of all the ways it can pay off once you have it.
To help you make the decision (or convince someone at your facility that’s on the fence), here are seven good reasons your assisted living facility should have a garden.
- It’s a big value add for a lot of seniors.
While the need for assisted living is only set to grow, there’s also a boom in the number of facilities being built. You want to stay competitive as families shop around and make their choice in what facility to go with. For any seniors that are avid gardeners or have always liked the idea of starting up a gardening habit, having a garden at your assisted living facility immediately makes it a more attractive choice to them.
Like the rest of us, seniors have been hearing for years how important exercise is. But it’s hard to commit to new habits later in life when they’re something that really doesn’t sound all that fun.
Gardening has the benefit of being a type of exercise that is actually fun for most of the people that do it. Researchers have found that gardening chores burn calories and make gardeners healthier. It gives your residents a chance to get out in the sun and do something active each day (but be sure you urge them to follow basic sun safety tips).
Does your assisted living facility have an emphasis on memory care? All the more reason you should start a garden. Research has found that gardening has a positive influence on seniors with dementia in a number of ways, including stimulating the senses, reminding them of positive memories, reducing the amount of stress they feel, and generally improving their mood.
As for seniors in assisted living who don’t have dementia, gardening (and other types of physical activity) can reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s by as much as 50%. If that’s not a good reason for seniors to embrace gardening, I don’t know what is.
- Gardening provides an opportunity for socializing with other residents.
As seniors get older and friends pass away or move away to be closer to their families, the risks of loneliness only grow. Moving to assisted living can help, but only if residents actually take the time to socialize with each other and form new connections.
Activities that get them together, working toward the same collaborative goals, can help them form those connections and fight off the loneliness they might otherwise be susceptible to. Gardening is one such activity. The more seniors that get out there together to work in the garden, the more potential friends each one of them gains.
- Having a garden makes your assisted living facility greener.
Seniors are showing a growing interest in eco-friendly assisted living facilities. Going for an eco-friendly certification can be a big, expensive undertaking, but even without going that far, you can make an effort to do a little more to make your assisted living facility environmentally friendly.
Having a garden is a big step in that direction. Growing even just some of your own food reduces your reduces your environmental footprint, and having more plants around means they absorb more of the CO2 in the air.
- Your residents can enjoy fresh, healthy produce.
Many of these benefits apply whether you grow flowers or produce, but this one is specific to growing your own food. If your residents work on growing fruits and veggies in the garden, you can ensure they’ll be enjoying the freshest of healthy ingredients during the meals they eat in the facility.
That’s a selling point to the residents and their families. It can make the food tastier and healthier, while also giving the residents a point of pride in helping contribute to the food that gets served in the facility.
- You can save money by not having to buy as much produce.
On top of that, being able to use produce grown in the garden reduces how much your kitchen will spend on buying fresh produce from other sources each year. It won’t cut out the cost completely, but it can put a dent in your food budget. Any time the budget gets tight, you can be glad to have one less thing to worry about.
A garden gives residents something they can enjoy and take ownership over. It can make them healthier and happier, and it makes your assisted living facility all the more valuable in their eyes. When you weigh the costs of building one against the many benefits it brings, the answer should be easy.