The Real Dirt on the Effect That Indoor Plants Can Have On Health and Well-Being

around can certainly make the air feel cleaner and the atmosphere greener. A 2019 study in the Journal of Exposure


Science & Environmental Epidemiology set out to find out whether it was true, and their con- clusion is in the study title: “Potted plants do not improve air quality.” A NASA study that said plants could help air quality was done under controlled conditions that can't be replicated in even a small, quiet room. The little they do to help is quickly dissipated.

Benefits go beyond However, there are still many things indoor plants can do to improve health and well- being in a community—and they can even improve safety. Eldergrow, the Seattle-based therapeutic gardening company that focuses on senior living settings, has done the re- search and found that indoor gardening offers multiple benefits: • “A 2019 systematic review from the Ge- rontological Society of America found that indoor gardening not only slows down cognitive decline in residents liv- ing with dementia, but it also improves residents’ weight, and both the quality and quantity of residents’ sleep.”

• “The benefits of therapeutic gardening impact all ages and cognitive abilities. One statistic that we always point to from the University of Washington shows that daily gardening reduces the risk factors for dementia by 36 percent. The daily ritual of tending to a garden and watching it grow not only restores a sense of purpose, but it also allows for enhanced cognitive stimulation, socialization, fine motor skills, and sensory stimulation. The same report from the University of Washington also saw benefits in reduction of pain, improvement in

or years, various lists have been published asserting that certain plants could clean the air. It seems to make sense—and having plants

A resident cares for an Eldergrow indoor garden at View Ridge Care Center. Photo by Tina Kies

attention, lessening of stress, lowering of as needed medications, and reduction of falls all linked to horticultural therapy and garden settings.”

• “A 2019 systematic review in Aging & Mental Health identified therapeutic hor- ticulture as one of the top interventions for loneliness in senior living, which is significant now more than ever. Loneli- ness and depression have escalated due to isolation around COVID, and the research shows that therapeutic garden- ing eases depression in residents. We’ve heard moving stories from our customers who’ve shared that one of the few things that residents can do right now is water their indoor therapy garden, and that their indoor garden has become ‘like a sanctuary.’”

Eldergrow has introduced two new COVID- specific activity kits: The Farm-to-Fork Kit is for outdoor gardening, and the 5 Senses Kit

for indoors. The latter is designed around research that sensory stimulation has been shown to improve mood and socialization for people with cognitive difficulties. The activities adjust to the level of contact ap- propriate for the community—there are solo, one-on-one, and small group activities.

Measurable results So even if the evidence for plants’ air- purifying abilities is scant, they make up for it in in stress reduction and improved mood, and there are numbers to prove that. A study in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation tested mood and heart rates before and after horticultural therapy and found heart rates reduced. And one in the Journal of Health Psychology measured cortisol levels before and after gardening, and found levels decreased—meaning so did stress.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44