Residents enjoy a ‘garden’ of mental and physical health benefits – In Focus

Brookdale Sunnyvale residents David Morrison and Mary Christie plant vegetables that will eventually be used in a healthy meal in the community.

With the warm months underway, residents of retirement homes are heading out, gardening gloves in hand, to dig and enjoy the fresh air, socializing and a range of mental and physical health benefits. .

In line with their proprietary approach to physical and mental activity known as Whole Brain Fitnessresidents and heads of Belmont Village Seniors Residence communities grow, harvest and prepare fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits for healthy and delicious meals. As a community-based and interactive activity for older adults, gardening promotes socialization and mental health while engaging them in physical exercise, positively affecting areas that are integral to an older person’s overall cognitive ability. .

“Not only do they taste and look great, but farm-to-table fresh produce means our residents reap greater nutritional benefits,” said Eric Lindholm, vice president of food services at Belmont Village Senior Living. . McKnight Senior Residence. “Plus, the rotating selection of produce used in our meals means a variety of new menu items to try.”

Lindholm noted that when the organization introduces a new fruit or vegetable, staff members work to highlight the nutritional benefits, color, different cooking techniques, and how those techniques can alter flavor and nutritional value. of the ingredient.

Farm-to-table flavors

Belmont Village’s nutrition programs offer farm-to-table meals based on forward-thinking concepts, said Chef Paul Haas of Belmont Village Albany.

“Our farm-to-table meals and healthy menu concepts help harness the medicinal benefits of foods,” Haas said. “That’s why we use only the freshest ingredients to ensure residents receive quality, beneficial nutrition while sharing the experience of growing and harvesting the foods used in their daily meals.”

Residents of Belmont retirement homes located in the California cities of Sunnyvale, Albany, Thousand Oaksand San Jose can participate in gardening and nutrition activities, each bringing their own flavor and “touch” to their recipes. At Belmont Village Sunnyvale, for example, residents grow cauliflower, tomatoes, parsley, chives, dill, edible flowers and scallions, which are then harvested by residents and incorporated into the meals by Chef Ellis Chavez.

“Having produce from the garden so readily available has been great for my staff and I to use in our meals,” Chavez said. “Recently, we also used parsley for an orange chicken chimichurri and garden basil for the same plate. It’s wonderful to see our community go to great lengths to take care of the herbs and vegetables they see and eat in their daily meals.

Resident well-being

Several years ago, a group of psychologists from the University of Queensland in Australia examined the relationship between gardening for seniors as a community activity and how it promotes psychosocial and physical well-being. The studywhich was published in SAGE Open Medicine, found that gardening activities and participation in a gardening group resulted in therapeutic benefits for older adults, such as increased self-esteem, participation in productive activities, and social engagement, essential for improving self-perception self-positive. Older people who actively garden, whether quietly or in moderate to heavy amounts, see the benefits of increased physical activity, which can prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of certain cancers, type 1 diabetes. 2, depression and heart disease.

Belmont Village Senior Living Founder and CEO Patricia Will also highlighted the positive effects the organization has seen on residents as a result of the gardening program initiative.

“By combining the socially connected benefits of an engaging activity like gardening with the use of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices in daily meals, we can further support the well-being of our residents as they age” , she said.

Sunnyvale resident David Morrison has experienced these benefits firsthand as a contributor to the community garden.

“The benefits of spending time in our garden are that we grow things that are used in our Belmont kitchen. Second, it gives us the ability to get some fresh air and sunshine,” Morrison said. “It’s also a great way for residents to learn and participate in the growth experience. All in all, it’s great fun to watch the garden grow and to be able to share the results with the community.

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Richard V. Johnson