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Care Home Residents Could Benefit from Therapeutic Gardening

We all know that being outside in the fresh air and sunshine is good for the body and the mind; this is where therapeutic gardening fits in.

However, as we age and our physical strength and agility decreases, finding a reason to go outside can become a challenge. Simply sitting on a bench counting the minutes doesn’t seem to do the trick.

This is especially problematic for the residents of many care homes. It’s a sad fact that without the impetus from the staff, many residents hardly go out at all.

With this problem in mind, therapeutic gardening is being embraced by some residential homes which have the space and facilities to do so. For many years, horticultural therapy has been used to treat a range of clients, from sufferers of emotional trauma to those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Its benefits as a therapy for older persons are also significant.

balcombe place gardens

Supporting Fine and Gross Motor Skills

As we age, factors such as failing eyesight, arthritis and tremors contribute to a loss of fine motor skills. Physical and mental disabilities also affect fine motor skills. The fiddly tasks, such as doing up the buttons on a shirt, become more difficult. If we move into residential care, someone will be there to do this for us, but this only speeds up the decline of function. Gross motor skills, which are related to strength and balance, also suffer from declining health and are made worse by the inactivity that comes from being unwell. Taken together, a loss of these types of skills can lead to a loss of independence, and in some cases, depression.

Therapeutic Gardening

Gardening is an excellent therapeutic tool for elderly and disabled residents. First of all, it includes going outside and, once outside, having a reason for staying there. Moreover, gardens are sensory places where the scenery is changing every day. For someone who lives in a residential care home the smell of a garden, the herbs and flowers in summer and the damp leaves in autumn can be very stimulating.

Once in the garden, there is such a range of tasks to do that most residents can contribute to. Gardening is also an activity that many people have some previous experience of, making it more accessible. Traditional rehabilitation therapies tend to rely on the motivation of the resident to be successful, but this is not required in gardening. The task at hand takes over – the flowers need to be deadheaded and the plants need to be watered. Fine and gross motor skills are renewed through the immediacy of the activities. When the task is done, there will be revived self-esteem and confidence.

Many Balcombe Care Homes are situated in accessible, impressive grounds with plenty of scope for therapeutic gardening. Employees consider gardening a great activity for residents, alongside a plethora of other hobbies and activities.

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