Houseplants & Aquariums: Surprising Benefits For Seniors


In a recent post, we discussed the many benefits of pet therapy. Because All Seniors Care is a pet-friendly company (you can bring along a pet for no extra charge), we’ve seen how much joy our residents get from caring for and playing with animals. Pet therapy has many physical health benefits as well, thanks to natural endorphins that flow through the brain during moments of tenderness with a cat, dog or parakeet.

To extend the pet therapy conversation into a similar realm, today we are going to discuss the benefits of house-plants in a retirement residence. Similar to keeping pets around, maintaining plants seems to brighten up a space and make it feel more vibrant.

The locations of our many senior living centres were chosen with great care in proximity to nature, greenery and walking paths. For our more active residents, this means exercising in the fresh air without the intense noise pollution (and regular pollution) of downtown. For some of our less-mobile residents, however, it is more difficult to get outside, houseplants can create a feeling of movement, life and change inside the space. Aromatic leafy green plants and fresh flowers make any indoor space feel more alive and exciting. Our residents benefit from this feeling in a way that is less abstract than you might think.

The Benefits of Houseplants

Without a doubt, the benefits of houseplants in indoor spaces boils down to this: the more alive the world seems, and the more you can interact with it, the more content you’ll be. For most of human history, we’ve spent our time in close communion with nature, and so it is only logical that supplementing our safe, warm homes with plants and animals would make us feel more comfortable. People can learn a lot from the slow, deliberate pace of a plant’s life, and supporting their growth with regular water provides another small activity of daily living that keeps you tethered to your environment.

In keeping with these principles, All Seniors Care goes the extra mile to make sure our residences are furnished with Ivy, Peace Lily, Bamboo Palms and other plants to create a warm, organic mood within our walls. If you happen to be interested in interior design and the art of creating the perfect peaceful atmosphere for seniors, contact us to learn more about our design process and the role of the environmental services manager.

  • Oxygen & Cancer Prevention – A now legendary study by NASA found that plants not only purify the air by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, they also scrub the air of volatile, cancer-causing agents. You’ll breathe easier knowing that nature’s stewards are hard at work keeping the air fresh!
  • Improve Your Mood – As with aquariums, strategically placing plants throughout a residence will improve the atmosphere and boost everyone’s mood. Most folks associate flowers with a positive event like graduation or an anniversary, so keeping fresh cut tulips or daisies around will unconsciously stimulate a celebratory mood. Touching smooth plants and flowers is great sensory therapy, and the dark green of most houseplants is an extremely soothing colour. Succulents and air plants are also a treat for the eyes and thrive with barely any water.
  • Gardening Therapy – Gardening therapy has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36 percent. Because the activity combines learning, strength, consistency and stamina, it has many positive effects for anyone, but especially for seniors. In the winter, when the garden is inaccessible, tending a bonsai tree or a small herb garden is a great alternative.

The Benefits of Aquariums

Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular

Studies have shown that seniors with access to an aquarium have lower blood pressure and reduced stress. Seniors may develop an affinity for the fish swimming in the aquarium as well, and according to another study, living with pets (even something as low-key as a fish) helps those at risk for heart failure live longer lives.

Cognitive Benefits & Combatting Memory Problems

Some people walk straight past a colourful aquarium without looking twice, but for those who take the time to enjoy the hypnotic spectacle, the soothing effects of an impressionist painting come to life can become a beautiful, meditative experience. For seniors, keeping your attention on the calming ripples of the aquarium actually improves cognitive performance by sharpening the senses, and helps to ward off memory problems such as Alzheimer’s.

The Fireplace Factor

In the same way that a cozy fireplace ties together a living room by acting as a comforting point of focus, an aquarium exudes a positive energy that draws people to congregate around it, which is why some seniors enjoy them.

Pet Therapy Light

In the same way that feeding a dog or cat can produce warm, happy feelings in a person, so too can feeding a fish. It may seem like a pretty minor thing, but small tasks and pleasures such as this add up to a well-rounded life.

A Question of Environment

Easy access to plants and aquariums reminds us that the beauty of our planet resides largely in the diminishing forests, jungles and oceans. Ralph Wild – a resident at our River Ridge Retirement Residence in Winnipeg – recently spoke to reporters on his 100th birthday and expressed concerns around climate change. Wild, who flew planes for the RAF in WW2, explained that when you defy nature, nature kicks back.

Plants and aquariums are small reminders that we are all part of a living planet, and that passing environmental stewardship down through the generations is an important task.

If you have any questions about the All Seniors Care experience, feel free to stop by any of our locations, call us up, or explore our website. You can also learn about the latest events hosted at our various residences and check out our YouTube channel to explore some fun videos!

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