Tiny Gardens Create Connections for Seniors

Originally published in the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune.

Resident Carol Wallis proudly displays her tropical Tiny Garden.

Residents of Methuen Village enjoyed time with Tiny Gardens NH for a workshop on how to make a dish garden.

“Our background is in plant care and senior living, so blending the two created a unique opportunity to bring to seniors in our area,” said Debra Green, owner of Tiny Gardens. “Research has shown that caring for plants can have a profound effect on our sense of happiness and well being as well as feeling more relaxed and relieving stress.”

Tiny Gardens, based in Atkinson, introduced residents to the hands-on activity. Methuen Village seniors and staff could join whether they were experienced gardeners or never had their hands in dirt.

“The importance of Tiny Gardens for my residents is having a feeling of accomplishing something that is beautiful, and it is a lot of fun to create,” said Deborah Cabral, enriched life director at Methuen Villages. “During this activity they have the opportunity to be creative and socialize with each other about what they are creating.”

Cabral said that her residents were able to connect with each other through a common interest.

Experts have proven that socialization among older adults ensures the brain stays sharp, according to Harvard Health. Broader social interactions keep the seniors more active, which can improve mood, cognition and memory recall.

Social isolation is associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia as well as a 29% increased risk of heart disease and 32% increase of stroke, according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s report in 2020.

A study from February 2022 in “Neurology” suggests that loneliness can also be associated with poorer executive functions.

“Tiny Gardens brings people together in a way that creates social interaction and shared common experiences that can extend their interests long after we have left the building,” Green said. “This offers one more tool to help residents avoid isolation.”