Green Areas Shown to Protect Seniors from Frailty

Gardening is Good for Seniors

Seniors who Lived in Green Areas Protected from Frailty

A new study From Hong Kong was published February 2, 2018, in JAMDA, the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.  Participants in the study were 3240 Chinese seniors who were followed up for two years and results showed that those who lived in an area with more than 34% green space showed improvement for frailty. This was stronger in men than in women and the researchers assume that the men did more physical exercise outside, especially gardening.

 Association between Living near Greenery and Cognitive Improvement

Previous similar studies have shown an association between living around greenery with an improvement in cognitive function. Green space is also associated with offering protection against air pollution.

Keeping Seniors away from Green Areas led to Depression

A study published in the Gerontologist Journal, May 8, 2018, showed that restricting seniors in 50 care homes in the UK from accessing green areas led to depression in residents in skilled nursing care facilities in the UK. The seniors complained that for the most part they were not allowed into the green areas and this is believed to be the reason that 40% of seniors in care facilities in the UK suffer from depression.

Gardening Popular in US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East

Interestingly, also in the UK it is estimated that 40% of the population are active gardeners and in fact 87% of the people in the UK have access to a bit of land and space for a garden. Statistics for the US estimate that about 117 Million people (one in three) participate in some form of gardening. In Japan about 32 million people (one in four) are active gardeners.

Indoor Sensory Gardens for Dementia

Since seniors with dementia have unique needs, some indoor sensory gardens have been constructed. Perhaps because of wandering, it was felt that an indoor garden would be safer. Actually, the reasons given are that gardening can take place all year round in spite of the weather. Some of them are made to look like backyard gardens and some made to look like parks. Murals are used as back drops and music, sounds of birds chirping and even the sound of a stream are piped in. Hanging pots and window boxes are also used for dementia patients to plant seeds and and care for them.

Reminiscence Therapy

These indoor sensory gardens are also used as Reminiscence therapy for dementia and help bring back past memories of gardening and gardening experiences and discussions about which flowers and plants are their favorites.

Meta Analysis

A meta analysis published in 2017 included information from 22 studies from the United State, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. These studies showed health improvement for depression, body weight, anxiety, quality of life and social ties, even with only short times spent in the garden and that gardening could benefit physical, psychological and social health. Four major areas are:

  1. There is a direct involvement with nature.
  2. Seniors participate in physical exercise.
  3. Socialization and social ties improve.
  4. There are nutritional benefits for seniors who grow their own food, especially if it is grown according to organic gardening methods.

Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, NY

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing is a skilled nursing facility in Syracuse NY that incorporates a very popular gardening club as part of their recreational therapeutic regime.

In our blog post from March 7, 2018, you can read more about the Van Duyn Gardening Club, the benefits of gardening therapy for seniors and how to make a garden senior friendly.


Gardening has been shown to have so many health benefits for seniors that if you are looking for a short or long-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing facility for your loved one, you should try to find one like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY that has a popular gardening club.


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