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News from the NEST: Spring 2023

Spring Into Gardening!


Gardening and Mental Health

Throughout the years, gardens have served as a place to grow plants & flowers, but did you also know they're also used to help you relax, connect with nature, and improve your mental health? Whether you're working with a single plant on a windowsill or tending to an acre of flowers, gardening can have positive effects on your brain and mental health.

Improve your mood! Playing in the dirt has always been fun, right? Why not plant a garden! Gardening can make you feel peaceful, sharpen your focus and reduce negative thoughts.

Increase your attention span! Gardening allows you to put your full attention on one activity and allows you to concentrate on what's in your hands without getting distracted. Many studies show that outdoor activities such as gardening can reduce similar symptoms of ADHD.

Get your body moving! Things like weeding, digging, and playing in the dirt provides plenty of small motor movement to keep your body and mind in check. If you don't like going to the gym gardening could be another way to get you moving!


Window Sill Gardening

Windowsill gardens can be a great way to try out your green thumb. They're the perfect space-saving option for home gardeners who don't have a larger outdoor space to dedicate to gardening.

Herbs are the #1 plant grown in windowsill gardens. Herbs are easy to grow and maintain, and there is nothing like fresh herbs in your meal! So what is best to grow on your windowsill?


Grow thyme on a sunny windowsill as it favors full, bright, direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist, but don't overdo it! Make sure it's moist to the touch and water whenever you see it's dry. Thyme is a classic herb used both fresh and dried, in roasted dishes and is a delicious addition to potatoes or chicken.


Green Onions


Sensory Gardening and Dementia

Research shows that daily gardening may lower the risk of dementia by 36%. Engaging in brain stimulating activities reduces the risk of Alzheimer's, just as physical activity would. Gardening promotes creativity, self-esteem, social interactions, but can also have much deeper impacts of those suffering with dementia.

Sensory stimulation, improved gross and fine motor skills, and better hand-eye coordination are all benefits that seniors with dementia could see with a small, simple garden.


Hopefully you spend some time this Spring literally "stopping to smell the roses" - but those sensory stimulators are also a wonderful way to engage seniors with dementia. Lavender and honeysuckle are often used to fill gardens with wonderful aromas, but they have more benefits than scent. These are not only loved (and much needed) by pollinators, but encouraging seniors to touch, smell, feel, and taste the leaves can open up their senses and provide them with a safe, calming, and enjoyable activity. Choosing plants that are safe for all the senses, can aide in improved sleep, agitation, and cognition in seniors with dementia. Consider planting an aromatic herb or edible flower that can be easily planted, maintained, and can be explored with all the senses!

Written by Kelly Ripley

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