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Evidence Summary

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Gardening can improve the overall well-being of older adults

Wang D, MacMillan T.  The benefits of gardening for older adults: A systematic review of the literature  Activities, Adaptation and Aging. 2013; 37:2, 153-181.

Review question

      What are the benefits of gardening for older adults?

Background

      Gardening can include a wide range of activities, such as taking care of plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables, both indoor and outdoor, but also more complex activities such as designing a landscape. 

      Gardening is generally considered a leisurely activity and hobby.

      It is increasingly promoted for its potential therapeutic effects to improve the overall health and well-being of older adults.

      Gardening offers the opportunity for being creative and to interact. It offers sensory stimulation, and can help maintain fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It can also help to promote intergenerational relationships and civic engagement.

      This systematic review aims to examine the research evidence about the benefits of gardening for older adults.

How the review was done

      A detailed search of a number of electronic databases was conducted to identify studies published up-to 2011. Studies that focused on interventions to promote gardening for older adults were included in the review.

      A total of 79 studies were identified in searches, and 22 were included in the review after assessing their eligibility.

      The authors did not acknowledge any funding sources for this review.

What the researchers found

      Overall, the majority of the studies (both in community settings and nursing homes) found some evidence that gardening was enjoyable to older adults, and it also improved their quality of life, physical ability, activeness, and social engagement.

      Being intellectually stimulating and helping to connect to past family experiences and nature were also mentioned as benefits of gardening. 

Conclusion

      This review found that gardening improved the quality of life, as well as physical and mental well-being of older adults.

      Gardening can be used to encourage healthy aging for both community-dwelling older adults and older adults in nursing homes.




Glossary

Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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