A study was conducted to see if gardening could help people in the transition from their home to a senior living community. The goal was to find ways to enhance the quality of life for people with an activity in which most people are familiar. Claudia Collins, Area Extension Specialist in Aging Issues and Angela O’Callaghan, Area Extension Specialist in Social Horticulture conducted the research at an assisted living residence in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The study looked at how a variety of garden plots and raised planters would increase interest and participation. The raised planters were created in different heights to offer greater accessibility for a wider range of abilities. In addition, the plants that were selected for use were chosen because of their seasonal variation. The location of the gardens was equally as important. They were visible from the dining are as well as many of the residential units. These and other features of a well planned garden, such as benches and shade, worked to insure interest and participation.
The study demonstrates how horticulture and gardening benefits older adults who are living in senior communities. The life-transitions that older adults face can be positively affected by incorporating nature based activities into their residential settings. Offering people the opportunity to manage and care for living things helps their self esteem and feeling of independence.
The article appears in the Journal of Extension (Dec. 2007, Vol. 45, No. 6) and can be found at