Horticultural Therapy for Better Senior Health

An expanding senior population is creating renewed demand for high-quality senior housing.  And to us, high-quality means access to nature and using landscaping as a metric to rise to new market challenges and simultaneously improve the quality of life for residents across a spectrum of needs.

This is good news for facility and portfolio managers with capital improvement monies to invest as landscaping and outdoor amenities are adaptable, innovative and sustainable ways to gain competitive advantage.

The economic argument is compelling. Data suggests that an estimated 70% of Americans aged 65 or older may require long-term care. Coupled with a set of statistics suggesting that access to nature improves health care outcomes, and it adds up to landscaping easily delivering a measurable return on investment.

As the assisted living communities of the future take shape, here are four key landscape trends to put on your radar.

Gateway Landscaping and Showcase Features:

The point of entry for new residents and potential residents, and visiting guests, is the front door. In an era where screening devices and advanced safety protocols are the norm, strategically-placed landscaping can help soften the technology, minimize touchpoints and make your building’s main entrance look like a welcoming amenity space without compromising the need for security.

Outdoor Living Rooms:

Outdoor gatherings will continue to meet new standards for public health and safety, and we’re building functional amenity spaces that can host family visits and social gatherings, and are pet-friendly. With a renewed emphasis on an accessible and flexible outdoors, we’re seeing an increase in requests for balconies, patios, courtyards and other spaces that are tech-enabled, airy and ventilated, and meet new restrictions for disease prevention.

Water Features:

Water is a soothing element so it’s only natural that its ability to improve mood is a given. When designed for safety and installed correctly, and integrated with smart-technology, interactive fountains, pondless waterfalls, architectural lighting, and water-recycling and conservation systems are among our most requested outdoor features.

 Therapeutic Specialty Gardens & Biophilic Elements:

Simply put, gardens are the fastest and most cost-effective way to add quantifiable value. Value in contributing to health and well-being, value as a participatory activity center, value as a community gathering place and value in what gardens provide as a multi-sensory experience.  At any stage of our lives, access to nature is always better than being cooped up.  For senior communities, gardens offer ways for residents to interact with plants and engage in nature-based activities: harvestable vegetable gardens and orchards; butterfly gardens, planted with flowering perennials that attract hummingbirds and beneficial pollinators (avoiding plants that attract bees or stinging insects); and bird gardens, with plants that provide forage and nesting habitats for migrating birds or waterfowl.

For more information on how ELM’s senior housing specialists rehabilitate outdoor spaces for a spectrum of specialized needs, contact President, Bruce Moore Jr. at 203-316-5433.




Improving Quality of Life by Planting for Health

Gardens and plants are growing in popularity in hospitals and other health care settings for one simple reason: they improve the quality of life and the quality of healing.

While every health care property is unique, there is one overarching goal each property’s landscape supports: “First, do no harm.” To this extent, there is a growing awareness that landscapes and plants can increase care quality, significantly improve patient health and satisfaction, measurably reduce infection risk and exposure, lower stress, and serve a greater purpose.

Our top six recommendations:

• Make nature, by way of strategic landscape planning, essential to your brand and credibility, and commitment to sustainability.

• Create multi-function therapeutic landscape space. Horticultural therapy sessions, interactive gardens, garden terraces and healing courtyard gardens, and green walls, with an emphasis on sensory perception.

• Integrate green building features with thoughtful elements that are patient-centered and accommodate limited mobility: handrails, grade-sensitive walkways that promote exercise, accessible ramps, and seating areas that promote rest.

• Create indoor atriums and enclosed all-weather landscape pavilions that provide high value impact and make nature available year-round.

• Choose seasonal plant and ornamental tree palettes that highlight rotating foliage color and texture, with plants that are non-toxic and non-thorny, with an emphasis on high contrast plantings to help patients with low vision; plant shade trees and lush perennial shrub and herb borders to create a sense of serenity.

• Mitigate environmental risk with less-toxic plant health care applications, advance human health and safety, with landscape lighting, green technologies, remote-controlled irrigation to avoid water waste and puddling; mitigate winter risk with storm and snow/ice management and safety plan.

ELM is a leader in health care, and institutional and commercial landscaping services. To learn more about healing gardens, plant therapy, and the role landscaping can play as an integrated strategy for health and well-being, contact Bruce Moore Jr., president, at 203-316-5433.