Seniors tend garden for comfort during troubled times

  • Monday, November 2, 2020 1:30am
  • News
Plants in the mobile garden are watered. Courtesy photos

With the world locked down due to COVID-19, Bainbridge Island Health & Rehabilitation has found an innovative way to keep its residents connected to nature.

Through a new partnership with Eldergrow, an award-winning Seattle-based therapeutic gardening company, Bainbridge Island residents are now able to nurture an indoor garden from the safety of their community. Eldergrow offers therapeutic gardening programs to seniors in residential and skilled communities.

“In this unprecedented time, it brings us comfort that our residents can safely interact with nature throughout their days,” said Adam Canary, administrator at Bainbridge Island.

Tiffany Miller-Rhees, who leads the program as activity coordinator, said the seniors enjoyed planting the flowers and herbs in the garden at the beginning. Now she schedules them to take turns watering the plants, “which they love.”

About 15 seniors are involved in the program. The garden is located in the therapy room, which motivates some of them to go to that gym for their much-needed workouts.

Grow lights shine on the garden 12 hours a day, while a fan is on all the time to keep bugs out.

Eldergrow sends Miller-Rhees activities the seniors can do with the garden, such as smelling the herbs or painting the flowers. The garden is on a wooden, wheeled container so it can be taken outside. The mobile gardens are handcrafted in Washington by veterans and adults living with disabilities.

Studies show that therapeutic horticulture reduces depression, improves balance and lowers the risk factors for dementia by 36%. Eldergrow offers elders a therapeutic connection to nature through enrichment classes on horticulture, culinary and garden art. Bainbridge Island Health & Rehabilitation will keep maintaining their garden and therapeutic program remotely with the help of Eldergrow’s virtual activities and garden coaching during coronavirus restrictions.

Seniors tend to the garden as a positive activity during these troubled times.

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