Gardeners, whether amateur or professional, know all about the power of plants, but there’s another group of people who can also benefit from this knowledge: residents of Cedar Rapids or elsewhere who are receiving hospice care.
More and more research shows that plants can play a big role in boosting someone’s quality of life, something that the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care always advocate.
This can be visual, such as seeing something colorful that might cheer someone up and help them remember past plants in their life, or improve their surroundings. Plants can even clean the air!
A plant can also give a patient something to take care of, especially if they live by themselves and their families have all grown up and aren’t around much.
Whether or not they’ve grown plants in the past doesn’t necessarily matter either – it’s often a good opportunity to learn something new, and a low-maintenance plant appropriate to the local climate can be a great gift for just about anyone. Having plants around are known to lower stress and pain levels.
Taking care of plants can require some deal of effort during the day, whether it’s watering and maintaining them indoors or helping them outdoors where you can get healthy sunlight. At the same time, most plants can go a few days without attention if you aren’t able to attend to them regularly, making them even more appropriate for people who may have weaker memories.
The gift of plants
EldercareIssues suggest that giving someone a plant can provide benefit for the giver and perhaps the receiver as well.
The act of picking one out that someone might enjoy can be enjoyable and show the recipient that you have put effort into something that they’ll see and appreciate daily.
Choosing one may not necessarily be easy, but worst case, you can always bring another one later.
If you’re going plant shopping, try some of these suggestions:
Something easy. Unless you know someone has past botany experience or practice working with rarer plants, avoiding giving something too rare or high maintenance. Something too exotic or needing extra attention could make someone feel anxious that they’re doing something wrong, uncertain of how to take care of it, and then feel terrible if it dies due to their lack of knowledge. Instead, look for common plants that are fairly easy to maintain by just about everyone.
Nothing too painful. Plenty of plants look nice, but some have properties that could be harmful to humans or pets, such as leaves or fluid that may irritate the skin or taste bad. While people generally shouldn’t eat raw plants, those with dementia might accidentally nibble on the leaves. Pets also might chew on leaves. A smarter move is to make sure the plant is safe for everyone, or even contain helpful properties such as mint, that can have a nice smell, or aloe, which can help the skin.
Something easy to work with. People may have limited mobility so may not be able to get outside and prune a full tree or rose bushes. But they might like an indoor plant that they can look at and work on all year round.
Something that can be easily gifted and moved. Someone on hospice care who has a favorite plant may start thinking about who will get it when they’re gone. It should be easy to pick up a pot with a plant in it, but something larger might be too bulky to take away.
Other therapeutic value
Though there’s a lot more to learn about the healing power of plants, they are being seen more in palliative and hospice environments.
Some hospice centers and even hospitals have gardens, where people and their loved ones are welcome to wander as much as they have the energy for. There are often benches as well, which make tranquil spots for meditation around all sorts of living things, often with good natural aromas as well.
A hospice program in Ohio invites patients and their families to plant a tree in their memory or make a donation to help sustain the garden. This has the value of helping a program that hopefully was helpful to someone at the end of their life and also helps preserve their memory
Another hospice program, this time in Surrey, England, is taking the concept of connecting patients with plants even further.
Each week, residents receive sessions of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture, where a local gardening specialist who is also an occupational therapist comes in with activities for every resident who wants to participate.
The activities themselves are simple, such as repotting plants. But the value of working with dirt and live plants is priceless.
Residents, including some with dementia or limited strength, still enjoy the ability to work with their hands and connect with others around them. Doing this project can take their minds off their current conditions and provide them with moments of happiness, which equates to a great quality of life.
Overall, the team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is always happy to encourage patients and their families on easy ways to incorporate more plants into their world.