Gardening – Benefits to Health & Well-Being

It’s that time of year. Growing season is upon us, and aside from the actual fruits of your labor, there are multiple health benefits to gardening.

Get Outside and Get Your Vitamin D

A 2014 Italian study, published on the National Institutes of Health website, found that exposure to sunlight helped older adults achieve adequate serum vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is needed to maintain healthy bones. Outdoor activities, such as gardening, drive folks outside to soak up the sun, and thereby increase their vitamin D levels. So get out there, and enjoy the added health benefit of increasing this much needed vitamin, which will have lasting effects on your health. Just remember to pack your sunscreen!

Lower Risk of Dementia

Studies have also found that gardening could lower the risk of dementia by 36%. Researchers tracked just under 3,000 people over the age of 60 for 16 years and concluded that physical activity, particularly gardening, could reduce the incidence of dementia in future years.

Gardening Can Improve Mood and Reduce Stress

A recent study out of the Netherlands, suggests that gardening fights stress even better than other hobbies. Participants completed a stressful task and were then told to read inside or go outdoors and garden for 30 minutes. The gardening group reported better moods afterward, and their blood tests showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. There is a great sense of accomplishment that is achieved by watching something that you have planted and grown with your own hands – flower, fruit and produce.

Gardening as Exercise

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the best way to get exercise is by doing something that you enjoy. You’re much more likely to exercise, if you’re having fun while you do it. Gardening is one of those activities, that while purposeful and possibly a bit tedious at times, can give you a great workout when you least expect it. Bending, stretching, pulling, twisting, lifting watering cans are all giving you the benefits of physical activity while your mind is focused on tending to your garden. These activities can improve your overall flexibility, strength, stamina and balance. Before you know it, you’ll likely break a sweat and have experienced a great overall workout without even realizing it!

Community Gardens Help Reduce Loneliness

Not enough land to have a garden on your property? Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department to find out if your community has a community garden. These are typically large areas of land with cordoned off, rentable garden spaces. Grab a friend, pick up some seeds or plants and get started. The added health benefit of this type of space, is the broader opportunity to socialize with others who also enjoy gardening.

And, as we age, many people struggle to find groups to socialize with – think about it, you were around people every day at work. Once you retire, you need to look for opportunities to get together with others. Gardening can be a great way to accomplish this. These gardens tend to be part of neighborhood beautification programs or programs that help provide fresh produce to those less fortunate in your community. Getting involved in a community garden can lead you to other opportunities to help and volunteer in your community, which will help you grow your social network.

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Locally Sourced Foods

Here at Maplewood Senior Living, food is one of our priorities and for good reason. The research is clear when it comes to brain health; what you eat matters.

Reaping the Benefits of the MIND Diet

There’s a fundamental reason that we choose to work with local purveyors. At Maplewood Senior Living, our memory care focus means we follow the latest research in the field and incorporate whatever we can to improve our residents’ quality of life. One such study in the field of Alzheimer’s and dementia confirmed the vital role played by diet and nutrition, and introduced the MIND diet.

The MIND diet was developed by nutritional epidemiologist, Martha Clare Morris, at Rush University Medical Center through a study that was funded by the National Institute on Aging.  MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, and it has many similarities to the Mediterranean diet.

With the MIND diet as a guide to our Maplewood cuisine, we focus on the key tenets which include eating the following foods regularly:

  • Vegetables
  • Green leafy vegetables in particular
  • Berries, especially blueberries
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil

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Residents Come First: Our Person-Centered Approach

“We recognize that a move to a senior living community is a very big emotional journey for families. One of the very first things we do to help make new residents and families feel comfortable is introduce them to our community staff. This allows them to get to know the many experts we have on staff and to ask any questions they may have. Our ultimate goal is to support residents and families throughout the journey so that they have a wonderful experience and thrive in our Maplewood [Senior Living] communities,” said Heather Freemont of Maplewood Senior Living.

Individual Preference & Tailored Approach

There are many ways Maplewood Senior Living puts residents first, and it starts with a tailored nursing plan. We understand that individual needs will vary, as well as personal preferences such as how residents prefer to engage with staff. When it comes to those with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, it is even more critical that we tailor the plan of care, as needs are so unique to each resident. We focus our efforts on treating our residents with dignity using the HEART (Humor, Empathy, Autonomy, Respect & Reaching out to others, and Trust & Triumph) approach. Our on-site nurses are available to help residents around the clock.

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Our Culinary Program – A Sensory Experience

At Maplewood Senior Living, our culinary experience is one designed to excite and engage the senses. We start with fresh, locally sourced ingredients that change with the seasons and offer peak nutrition for our residents. Our culinary team creates dishes to delight the palate while focusing on presentation, because along with tastes and smells, sight is also an essential part of our dining experience.

We focus on the senses. Why? Simply because the five senses can be hindered with age and yet they’re critical to improving our resident’s quality of life. Every detail of the dining experience has been purposefully developed, from the expertise, passion and creativity of our chefs and dining staff to our dining environments.

We tailor our culinary experience to help each resident thrive, even when their senses change. Here are just a few examples of how we cater to our residents:

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