As the aging population grows, doctors and other medical health professionals are seeking ways to keep seniors healthier for longer. As it becomes increasingly obvious that pharmaceutical drugs can’t successfully bear the complete burden of age-related illness, those in the profession of geriatrics have been forced to get a little creative.
Cue a recent study conducted by some folks at Virginia Tech. There, a group of researchers looked at the practice of horticulture therapy. Not familiar with this form of therapy? Basically it incorporates plants and gardening into therapeutic and rehabilitation activities. This natural therapy is used to improve the quality of life of the aging population, while helping to reduce the costs for long-term, assisted-living residents.
This is especially relevant for both the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, the researchers say, since aging is occurring at an unprecedented rate in these areas, with Korea experiencing some of the world’s greatest increases in elderly populations.
In support of the role of nature in geriatrics, the researchers reviewed a bunch of existing studies. Many reported the health benefits of horticultural therapy and garden settings. These benefits included the reduction of pain symptoms, improvement in attention, lessening of stress, modulation of agitation, reduction in medications needed, including antipsychotics, improvements in symptoms of dementia, and reduction in number of falls.
These studies present data supporting the role of natural settings for the long-term care and rehabilitation of the elderly. This is done by helping to remedy the medical and mental health problems that frequently occur with aging.
If you live in your own residence, why not follow this health advice and try a little gardening at home? You don’t need to have a green thumb. The point is to spend a little time caring for plants. There are many different kinds of gardens that may interest you. There are flower gardens, pond gardens, vegetable gardens, rock gardens, butterfly gardens — well, you get the idea. Do a little research, then dig into the soil and get started. Gardening is good for your mind and your body!
Still not convinced? For more health tips on the benefits of gardening, read Why Gardening Might Improve Your Eating Habits.