Gardening for Cognitive Health


Bradford Square Retirement Community

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Posted on

Sep 29, 2023


Florida - Southwest

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Healthy lifestyles are usually associated with physiological aspects, such as eating a proper diet and exercising. However, taking care of your cognitive health should also be a priority. The human brain is a powerful organ, and it can decline or thrive with your activities across a lifetime. To improve your cognitive health at any age, consider gardening as a resource. Indeed, this hobby has many health benefits.

Breaking Down the Science of Cognitive Health and Gardening

In a world of technology, a simple garden pulls you into the real world. That heightened sense of reality through social media, images and videos can put anyone on edge, especially senior citizens and children.

By starting a garden, there are no shortcuts to growing plants. They'll grow at their own pace. As a result, you appreciate the world around you. Without a doubt, the anticipation of waiting for a flower to bloom encourages you to learn more about plants and their growth cycles.

Additionally, physically working in a garden improves cognitive health because of the ample oxygen. For example, plants take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. Because there's a concentrated amount of oxygen in any garden, your body will inhale it. Scientific data over the years has shown that increased oxygen intake improves brain functionality.

Remarkably, gardening is also associated with higher serotonin levels. The body generates this feel-good hormone when it's exposed to a bacteria found in everyday soil called Mycobacterium vaccae. Scientists continue to research the relationship between good microbes and the human body. Currently, there's research being performed on commercial soils to generate better and larger crop volumes, such as work at Microbial Insights. By understanding the soil's elemental components and microbe communities, then food volumes can be controlled and improved for future cities.

Understanding Gardening's Benefits for Seniors

Many seniors have limited mobility, which creates a sedentary lifestyle. As a result, blood flow to the brain isn't as rich as before. By starting a garden, seniors get moving. For example, they till the soil, add seeds to the ground and water the area. Although these actions aren't aerobic by nature, they're still movements that bring blood to the brain for cognitive health.

Inevitably, challenges will arise. Seeds may not germinate, flowers succumb to disease and other issues may haunt the garden. These challenges are beneficial for seniors. For example, they encourage problem-solving techniques to bring the garden back to life. By making people think about their hobbies, their cognitive health improves.

Simultaneously, seniors also learn about acceptance. Life is full of challenges that might be won or lost. Indeed, life is more about dealing with chaos than controlling it. With even the best tools on hand, gardens will have imperfections. Accepting the challenges and trying to do better allows seniors to accept some losses and celebrate those small victories.

Starting Your Garden

The best way to start your garden is by beginning small. Purchase some potting soil and gardening pots, for instance. Make sure the pots have drainage holes, too. Carefully add soil and preferred seeds to the pots. Next, thoroughly water them. As a result, you have the beginning of a simple garden.

Alternatively, consider purchasing seedlings so that you have an established plant at first. As the seedlings grow, you can repot them or add them to a backyard garden. Whether you start with seeds or seedlings, the gardening benefits can help the mind.

Most importantly, always start with rich soil. Most potting soil brands come with the right mix of nutrients. Avoid tamping the soil down as you create a garden, too. Roots require air pockets to spread and absorb the gas elements.

As seniors work with their desired plants, they'll find out that some like more water than others. For example, overwatering or underwatering creates yellow leaves in most plant species. Experimenting with watering levels will reduce stress on the plants and lead to vigorous growth.

With retirement opening up many days of free time, seniors have a chance to truly take on a hobby and stick with it. Suggest gardening to your loved one today. Beginning with just a single potted plant can grow into a huge garden in the backyard.

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Weve all heard of the common forms of therapy, including physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and therapy for behavioral and mental health. But did you know there are many other therapeutic approaches available for seniors to engage in to improve their physical and mental health?From art and music to gardening and pets, many varieties of therapy exist that take a more holistic approach to seniors health and wellness. These alternatives can be a supplement to standard therapies, or they can be done as a standalone practice. Either way, alternative therapies can be a powerful tool for enriching the lives of seniors.  Lets explore five of the best alternative therapies for seniors in Florida.1. Art TherapyArt therapy for seniors is based on the notion that being artistic and creative helps promote healing, self-expression, and mental well-being. Art therapy is led by trained experts in both art and psychology. The focus of this type of therapy is not on artistic abilities or final products, but instead on the process of being creative and expressing oneself.Some techniques commonly used in art therapy include painting, drawing, doodling, coloring, sculpting, and photography.Art therapy is intended for people of all ages and abilities. It is often utilized in settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, senior centers, assisted living, and memory care communities. Art therapy is highly beneficial for seniors as it helps keep memory sharp, reduces stress, promotes communication and self-expression, improves mood, and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety. So channel your inner Picasso and start reaping the many benefits of art therapy!2. Music TherapyMusic therapy for seniors is similar to art therapy, but it instead uses the power of music to enhance mental wellness and emotional health. It is commonly used for seniors to encourage socialization, reduce stress, and promote self-expression. Music therapy utilizes four main techniques: receptive, re-creation, improvisation, and composition/songwriting. During receptive music therapy, the therapist plays music and in response, the senior is free to express themselves through dancing, writing, or with words. Re-creation music therapy involves various musical activities such as singing songs, playing instruments, and doing rhythmic exercises. Improvisation therapy involves the senior creating simple music with their voice, body percussion, or instruments. Finally, during composition/songwriting therapy, the senior is able to create their own music or lyrics.All of these techniques help seniors express their emotions, feel a sense of purpose and achievement, improve their cognitive functioning, feel joy and nostalgia, and foster social interaction and community involvement. After all, who doesnt love a good jam session?3. Pet TherapyOne of the most beloved forms of alternative therapy is pet therapy. This type of therapeutic intervention uses animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, and more to improve seniors physical and mental health.Animals involved in pet therapy are thoroughly trained to be well-socialized and interact with seniors, especially those who may have limited mobility.The three main types of pet therapy are ownership therapy, visitation therapy, and animal assisted therapy (AAT). With ownership therapy, the senior actually owns the pet. This option is best for seniors who are active, mobile, and able to successfully care for a pet. Visitation therapy, the most common type of pet therapy, involves animals coming to visit seniors, either in their homes or senior living communities. Visitation therapy is what most people picture when they think of pet therapy.Finally, animal assisted therapy is an intensive form of therapy for seniors who need extreme rehabilitation. Oftentimes this type of therapy involves highly sensitive animals like horses and dolphins to improve and practice physical skills. Pet therapy has been proven to be extremely beneficial for seniors. Pet therapy requires seniors to increase their mobility and physical activity by walking or playing with the pet. It also promotes mental activity, increases communication, reduces loneliness, encourages affection, decreases stress, and lowers blood pressure. Not to mention, therapy pets bring love and joy to everyone they meet.The power of pets is incredible!4. Aquatic TherapyAquatic therapy, also known as hydrotherapy or aquatherapy, is a technique that has been used for thousands of years, including for seniors. It involves the senior performing certain physical stretches and exercises in temperature-controlled water for physical rehabilitation, relaxation, and fitness. The goal of aquatic therapy for seniors is muscle relaxation, increased strength, improved joint motion, and pain reduction. Aquatic therapy is especially beneficial for seniors, as it puts less pressure on joints, reduces inflammation, and provides a safer environment to practice balance, mobility, and strength exercises. Studies have shown that water-based exercises can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health, and can also help people improve their exercise habits.Some techniques used in aquatic therapy include underwater walking and stair training, strength training with water weights, stretching with flotation belts, and more. Aquatic therapy can be done in both indoor and outdoor pools. Seniors in Florida have the unique advantage of having access to outdoor pools year-round, making aquatic therapy more accessible. 5. Horticultural TherapyHorticultural therapy, sometimes known as gardening therapy, is the use of gardening, plants, and plant-based activities for the purpose of healing and rehabilitation. This practice has been used for thousands of years to improve peoples physical, mental, and cognitive health, and has gotten more popular and widely recognized in more recent years.Horticultural therapy is often used with seniors as it is accessible for those with limited mobility. Research has shown that working with plants promotes relaxation, heightens senses, improves physical health, and increases cognitive awareness. For seniors in particular, gardening is also an opportunity to socialize with others, work toward a common goal, feel a sense of purpose, increase self-esteem, be engaged in the community, decrease stress, and spend time outdoors. Some activities used in horticultural therapy include tending to gardens, sowing seeds, drying herbs, harvesting produce, potting plants, creating floral arrangements, and many more.Like with aquatic therapy, Florida seniors are at an advantage by having nice weather year-round, allowing them to be outside and work in gardens no matter the season. So bring your green thumb and get gardening!How to find alternative therapy for seniorsAs you can see, there are many options available for Florida seniors to engage in alternative therapies to improve their health and wellness. But how can you find these opportunities?One of the best ways to access alternative therapies is through assisted living communities. 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Indoor Gardening for Seniors

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7 Tips for Seniors to Create a Beautiful Patio Garden

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Bradford Square Retirement Community

Independent Living 3255 Vanderbilt Beach Rd., Naples, Florida, 34109

Designed for your comfort, our community will feature studios, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom senior living apartments with a variety of floor plans and smart details to complement your lifestyle. Each apartment is unfurnished but includes window coverings, a climate-controlled thermostat, carpeting, ceiling fans, and ample storage. Enjoy the freedom to decorate your new home to your individual taste. The kitchens are fully equipped with a dishwasher, range, microwave, refrigerator with ice maker, and a garbage disposal. Our bathrooms are well lit with a vanity sink and storage cabinet, plus high toilet seating and a walk-in shower with handrails. Washer/dryer hook-ups are located in a separate laundry closet within the apartment. We also offer residents the option to use our community laundry room on-site. Our professional staff provides as-needed maintenance repairs and light housekeeping on a weekly basis.