New Indoor Therapeutic Sensory Gardens Connect Seniors to Nature

With the help of an innovative therapeutic sensory gardening program, residents of Dallas Retirement Village’s memory care and skilled nursing care can now enjoy a connection to nature all year long. In October, the community acquired two indoor, mobile gardens, each one featuring a raised area with organic soil for planting flowers, vegetables, and herbs.

Created by Seattle-based Eldergrow™  and funded through a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that was spearheaded by LeadingAge Oregon, Eldergrow therapeutic sensory gardens encourage seniors to work with and nurture plants even during the coldest months of the year. Residents help create the initial garden, maintain the plants, and replace them seasonally.

Watch this short video here to see how the Eldergrow therapeutic sensory garden works.

The Eldergrow garden club comes with big benefits. Studies show that being around plants improves emotional well-being, reduces anxiety, stress, and depression, and improves memory and focus—all important contributors to quality of life, especially for older adults living in memory care and skilled nursing care residences. Gardening increases physical activity and improves motor skills. Eldergrow gardens also cultivate a shared sense of purpose among residents and encourage interacting and socializing.

In addition to visual stimulation that lifts people’s moods, the gardens include engaging educator-led therapeutic programs and activities for seniors focused on horticulture, nutrition, and garden art. In one of our classes this fall, residents learned about the health benefits of pumpkins, the difference between herbs and spices, and made a spiced pumpkin mousse. In another class, residents created festive terrarium holiday ornaments from moss, plant cuttings, and other natural items.

“The gardens have been well received by residents. They’re engaged and look forward to the classes,” said Hilary Boyce, life enrichment director for Dallas Retirement Village, an independent living senior community in Dallas, Oregon.

During warmer months, residents garden in outdoor raised beds, growing flowers, herbs, and seasonal vegetables. The Eldergrow gardens are the first to bring nature indoors. They are the latest example of the community’s ongoing pursuit to provide meaningful programs for older adults that contribute to all dimensions of wellness.

Eldergrow gardens are handcrafted locally in Washington by a team of veterans and adults with disabilities as part of a job-skills training program.

To learn more about our innovative skilled nursing care, memory support, and dementia care, visit our health services page. If you have questions or want to see the new Eldergrow gardens in person, send us a note using the form below.

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