Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Houseplants increase quality of life for retirement community residents

Caring for plants increases physical and emotional health

As the U.S. population ages, the number of citizens moving from their own homes to assisted living or long-term-care facilities is increasing dramatically. These numbers are expected to continue rising.

By 2030, the population aged 65 years and older is expected to double to more than 71 million. Quality of life becomes an important issue for older adults who will reside in retirement facilities.

An article published in the American Society for Horticultural Science journal HortTechnology examines the impact of indoor gardening in regards to quality of life in assisted-living facilities. The results of the study, conducted by Claudia C. Collins and Angela M. O'Callaghan, find that an activity as simple as caring for a houseplant can have very positive effects on a resident's happiness.

The study measured three attributes: mastery, self-rated health, and self-rated happiness. Mastery was defined as the belief that one's actions and choices determine outcomes in life. Often, when adults make the transition from living on their own to an assisted-living or long-term-care facility, they begin to feel a loss of control in their choices and independence. This loss of mastery has a negative impact on their overall sense of health and well-being. Mastery and self-rated health have been found to be two of the most accurate predictors of the social concept of "successful aging", a concept defined as high mental and physical functioning and active engagement with life.

One known way to improve the physical or emotional status of people who have diminished control over their lives is by encouraging them to take responsibility for another individual. This "other individual" may be a person, animal, or plant.

The 4-week study involved participation by 18 residents in a weekly, 2-hour interactive horticulture class taught by a social horticulturist and a sociologist. The residents were given interactive lessons on the care of houseplants, choices of what plants to bring home and care for, and different options in potting containers. The classes also offered residents an opportunity for social interaction with peers and instructors.

Over the course of the study, the teachers were impressed by the transformation of the overall demeanor of the students. They changed from a state of passive, lonely dependence to being more active, socially connected, and responsible for something other than themselves, demonstrating improvement in quality of life and mastery.

Several key categories emerged over the course of the study that illustrated areas of improvement in the resident's quality of life. First, caring for their houseplants provided companionship for the residents, some of whom reported singing and talking to their plants. Second, caring for the plants encouraged active and energetic participation. The researchers reported that "the overall energy was positive and electric as everyone involved could not wait to see how their plants would fare", adding that study participants "got dirty hands, dirt on their clothes, and felt competent."

Other positive impacts noted were a general feeling of success and accomplishment. Residents also showed excitement in planning for the future, and looked forward to being involved in developing an outdoor community garden.

Results of this study suggest that a horticulture intervention such as personal plant responsibility may be beneficial over a period of time. The researchers suggested that similar short-term horticultural activities could be used to help integrate new residents into assisted living, making it feel like their new home, as opposed to being "in a home". Future research will assess longer-term impacts as students from this class transition into the core group for ongoing development of an outdoor healing garden at the site.

Michael W. Neff | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>