Systematic review of indoor nature interventions for the health of older adults in residential settings

A new systematic review carried out by Nicky Yeo and colleagues and published in The Gerontologist found some evidence to suggest that involvement in active gardening and horticultural programmes can benefit the wellbeing of older adults in residential homes.

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Older adults living in residential homes are at risk of loneliness, hopelessness, and depression. There is a need to find suitable interventions strategies to promote wellbeing and improve the quality of life of the 421,000 adults aged 65+ living in residential settings in the UK. One way to support residents’ wellbeing, and help “buffer” them against changes to their routines and health conditions, could be through facilitating contact with nature.

The review found some evidence which indicated that active involvement in indoor nature programmes, including gardening, has greater potential to provide benefits than more passive exposures such as nature corridor installations.

More effective programmes tended to be longer term and were shared/group experiences. Opportunities to acquire knowledge or to learn new skills were also associated with greater benefit, as were opportunities to have control and autonomy, to provide care, or to be responsible for nature.

Yeo, N.L., Elliott, L.R., White, M.P., Garside, R., Bethel, A., Dean, S.G., 2019. Indoor Nature Interventions for Health and Wellbeing of Older Adults in Residential Settings: A Systematic Review. The Gerontologist. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnz019

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