Interior decorators have known for a long time that adding a plant to a room makes it feel more welcoming and comfortable. This is why houseplants are such a common sight in businesses and doctors' offices.
Softening a space is far from the only benefit houseplants have to offer. This guide can help older adults decide whether adding a few plants to their homes is right for them.
While plants don't remove dust and allergens the way a high-quality air purifier can, there are several species that are known to improve the air.
A good example is the snake plant, one of the most popular and easy to care for houseplants. Also dubbed mother-in-law's tongue, it can help scrub toxins from the air, according to research. The upright leaves also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night, making them a nice addition to bedrooms.
Other air-cleaning plants seniors may wish to consider include spider plants, peace lilies, philodendrons, ferns and palms.
Many houseplants naturally increase humidity levels in the air around them, so if seniors struggle with the dry desert climate here in Phoenix, AZ, including a few potted plants in their patio home may help provide relief.
In addition to expelling humidity through their leaves, plants also bring water into the environment through the moist soil in their pots. Some plants require frequent misting to keep their leaves healthy, and some can even be grown directly in containers of water.
Putting vases containing houseplants in warm, sunny areas increases evaporation rates, so a particularly dry room may benefit from this type of growing method.
Several of the plants that can be grown in water also flower or have interesting leaves, which lets them double as lovely centerpieces. The most important thing to remember is to keep the roots clean and healthy through regular water changes and rinses.
Tending to houseplants is a good source of activity for older adults. Watering the plants requires individuals to walk between a sink and the pots, and seniors have to use their muscles to lift and carry small containers.
Plants that require misting are good for hand dexterity and strength due to the need to repeatedly pull the trigger on a spray bottle. Similarly, bonsai trees and vines can be pruned regularly to maintain their shape, so seniors can flex their fingers while using clipping shears.
As with any hobby, keeping houseplants offers seniors the opportunity to learn and memorize new things, which is great for mental engagement. Plants also provide purposeful activity, especially for varieties that require specialized attention and care.
Spending time outside in nature is well-known in the scientific and medical fields to reduce feelings of stress and depression while increasing overall happiness and comfort.
Gardening is a great hobby for older adults, and it can improve mental and physical wellness. However, the positive effects don't have to stop when seniors head inside. Indoor herb gardens, flowers and houseplants are great ways to enhance homes with the benefits of nature. Bringing greenery indoors also adds beautiful live decorations to spaces, which can further boost pleasure and enjoyment.
As with any decoration, plants and their containers come in a massive array of styles and colors, so older adults can easily customize their choices to suit their taste and preexisting furnishings in their independent living garden home here in North Phoenix.
With all their benefits, houseplants seem like the perfect addition to any home, but they do have disadvantages that older adults should note.
Many types of houseplants are toxic and can be dangerous for pets or small children who may play with them or try to eat them. For seniors who have pets or very young grandchildren, it may be necessary to skip certain houseplants or keep them in high, out-of-the-way locations.
Sap from certain houseplants can trigger skin irritation and rashes. Caring for the plants, especially pruning and cleaning them, can cause exposure to the sap, so it's important to research varieties before purchasing them to learn about potential problems.
Flowering houseplants can trigger hay fever just as easily as their outdoor cousins. For seniors with allergies, it may be best to avoid plants that can bloom and pick ones with colorful foliage instead.
Because plants naturally raise humidity levels, they can potentially trigger mold in their soil and the room around them. Watering accidents, leaking pots and constant misting can also cause damage and mold issues on furnishings, window ledges and shelves, so seniors should keep surfaces clean and dry.
Seniors who want to reap the benefits of caring for houseplants can talk with local plant nurseries and home improvement stores for tips on the best varieties for their homes and lifestyles. They can also look into cat grass, African violets and other pet-safe options if they own an animal companion and hardy species such as cactus and pothos if they want to save time.
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