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Celebrating May in the Garden

Between Mother’s Day, Nurses’ Week and Teacher Appreciation Week, in May we celebrate nurturers and the act itself of nurturing. Extend this theme to your therapeutic garden this month, to enhance the emotional health and wellbeing of those whose care is entrusted to you.

Except, this month, flip the script.

Think beyond the classic role of employees as nurturers and older adults as receiving care. Give older adults the opportunity to be nurturers. This role reversal allows seniors to feel more purpose and autonomy. It may connect them emotionally to days gone by, reminding them of happy times tending to children, spouses and home gardens.

Three ideas you can implement this month that focus on older adults as nurturers include:

  1. Seniors as social committee. When you organize social events in the garden, enlist the help of the older adults to spur interest. Whether it’s music therapy, a visit from local schoolchildren or a game of sock hop, an outreach committee can increase participation. In addition to spreading your message, seniors can lend support and create camaraderie for other seniors as they encourage and coax them outdoors, into the garden.
  2. Charity. Give seniors a voice and a vote to participate in something bigger than themselves. What’s important to them? Do they want to grow flowers to give to local service members? Compost and sell the material to collect money for animal welfare?
  3. Community gardening. Carve out a portion of your garden to dedicate solely as a community garden, with seniors deciding what’s planted, where, and how it’s maintained. Perhaps your community has a love for roses or wants to recapture the feeling of their vegetable gardens from their younger years.

At every stage in life, people want to retain a sense of control. Handing over the reins of nurturing to seniors who are normally on the receiving end of caregiving invigorates their brains and their bodies, positively impacting their physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

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