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Flowers and the Emotional Health of Seniors

By Jacqueline Cross (libelluleJuly 18, 2008

Is it possible that something as simple as flowers can bring happiness to your favorite senior's life? Dropping by with a fistfull of daisies or a potted plant for their coffee table will bring more joy into their day than you can imagine.

Gardening picture

     The way we live our lives in modern times has grown busier and more complicated as the generation's pass by.  It seems to me, there are far too many family elders that live alone, waiting for a visit or phone call to brighten their days.  A few decades back, an elder member of the family was revered for the love and wisdom they brought to the family unit.  Wouldn't it be nice if we all took a few minutes out of the day, even one day a week, to visit an elderly member of our family or even one in our community?


Moving a bit slower
gives more time to
enjoy the flowers.


Photo courtesy of 
ariadna at MorgueFile


     I was thinking about my grandmother recently.  She has now been on this earth for 94 years, and is no longer able to get out on her own.  At one time, she was a very active woman. She raised nine children through some very hard years.  She also worked a job in her later years and retired from that job. In her yard, she grew some beautiful flowers and was very proud of them.  I know they brought a smile to her face every evening when she came home from work and walked up the sidewalk to the porch steps.  She would also sit on her porch and admire the blooms as often as she could.  I can only imagine how she must feel now that she can no longer get out and admire the flowers.


A private spot to relax quietly with a friend.

Photo courtesy of 
bobby at MorgueFile

     The elderly in the United States are faced with many problems, from health care to worrying about the cost of groceries.  Being alone, in some cases, is one of the hardest things they have to face.  Losing the ability to drive leads to a feeling of isolation.  A high percentage of seniors suffer from deep depression caused in part by, extreme loneliness.

     It only takes a walk through the neighborhood to see that the happiest people, young and old alike, can be found in the gardens that line the streets.  It is not a big leap from there, to see how flowers can affect a persons mood and all around well-being.  There are a few interesting studies that look at the relationship between flowers and healthier, happier individuals.


The smallest gesture can 
have the biggest impact.


Photo courtesy of
bjwebbiz at MorgueFile

Seeing a favorite flower will
always bring a smile out.


Photo courtesy of
bjwebbiz at MorgueFile


     One study in particular was conducted by Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University of New Jersey.  This academic paper was published in the April 2005 issue of Evolutionary Psychology entitled; "An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers." [1]

     This research showed that flowers given to seniors made them happier, as simple as that.  There was a substantial decrease in depression, more social contact initiated by the senior, even memory function was shown to be affected. Flowers bring joy and happiness to those living, hidden, among us.  Those who may very well need it most.


A bouquet for
every season.

Photo courtesy of 
clarita at MorgueFile


Perfect bundle.

Photo courtesy of 
at MorgueFile


     How easy it would be to brighten a senior's day by simply taking a bouquet of cut flowers from your garden to them. Better yet, create a garden in their yard so that they may enjoy it from a chair by the window.  If they are still able to get out into the yard, have the senior get involved with the gardening, from choosing the colors they like best to deadheading the faded blooms.

     Set an area aside in the garden so that they may sit among the flowers.  Make it comfortable, with protection from the sun and level pathways so they will not trip as they walk into the garden.  If they use a wheelchair to get around, make pathways wide enough to accommodate the chair.


A shady spot to

Photo courtesy of 
gracey at MorgueFile


A sunny spot to
warm your bones.

Photo courtesy of 
click at MorgueFile


     The reward, if you need one, is in knowing that you have made a deserving senior happy.  Maybe, just maybe, someone will do the same for us when we reach that stage in life.


Happy Gardening~

[1] Evolutionary Psychology ISSN 1474-7049 Volume 3. 2005

Photographs courtesy of MorgueFile

Thumbnail photo courtesy of bjwebbiz at MorgueFile


  About Jacqueline Cross  
Jacqueline CrossI'm a native Floridian...feet planted in the shifting sands of northwest FL. but my heart strings are tightly knotted to the hills of Tennessee. I live with my poodle, Minnie Pearl, Zsa Zsa the cat who runs the whole show and a new addition, Kitty Belle. I'm a writer, gardener, quilter, cross stitcher, soapmaker and nature lover. Mother to 3 wonderful daughters & Nana to 6 perfect grandchildren. I also write for and was promoted to Feature Writer in the vegetable gardens section in 2008.

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