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The Power of Plants: How Houseplants Support Senior Mental Health

Posted by The Goodman Group on April 22, 2021

The Power of Plants_ How Houseplants Support Senior Mental Health_v2-1

Houseplants offer a multitude of physical and psychological health benefits in addition to being a fun way to bring a splash of green and a bit of the outdoors inside with you. Many older adults who love getting outside to garden or frequently hike in nature find that caring for houseplants is an easy way to stay in touch with nature, even when they can’t get outside as often as they once did. 

You don’t need to have a green thumb to care for houseplants, and with a few simple tips, some discipline, and a spot of sunshine, you’ll be amazed how much they can dress up your environment and improve your mood.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite low-maintenance houseplants to help you decide which flora is right for you or your senior loved one’s floor, shelf, or windowsill.

Health Benefits of houseplants

You probably know that plants take in the CO2 we exhale and convert it into oxygen, but do you realize how that benefits your overall health? Having more oxygen in your surrounding environment has been proven to make breathing easier, boosts your body’s immune response, and improves the quality of your sleep. The many benefits of plants for physical health are well-documented and become increasingly important as we age.

Access to nature, even when it’s a potted plant by your bedside, has been shown to particularly beneficial for seniors and individuals living with chronic illness and mobility issues. Natural spaces promote feelings of “renewal, restoration, and spiritual connectedness,” according to a 2015 University of Minnesota research study.

Data analyzed by researchers at Texas A&M has shown that having plants nearby reduces anxiety, can promote healing, and improves mood, which is especially valuable to seniors struggling with psychological distress such as depression. Many studies have found that being surrounded by nature improves cognition, and boosts overall feelings of well-being, both indoors and outdoors. 

Now that we’ve discussed the overall benefits, let’s meet some of these amazing houseplants to welcome into your home!


  1. Snake Plant

    Snake plants are a sturdy, low-maintenance species. In addition to bearing waxy, dark green leaves, they often develop variegated patterns and can grow from around six inches to as high as several feet tall even in small pots. These plants are reputed as some of the best houseplants for air purification, as they can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen 24 hours a day, even while it’s dark outside. Even better, they only need watered every two to eight weeks!

  2. Heart-Leaf Philodendron 

    Heart-leafs are a favorite because they are adaptable to many conditions and don’t mind if you occasionally miss a watering. They are also one of the most common hanging plants, and when they’re properly cared for, they can grow long tendrils that cascade from their pot, creating a lush waterfall of greenery. Their heart-shaped leaves are often found cascading near windows, but they also can thrive in low-light and freshen up your perception of your space.

  3. Spider Plant

    Spider plants might be the most indestructible of all houseplants. These plants always look perky, with thin leaves of various colors. Additionally, spider plants often shoot out smaller spider plants attached to tubers, which you can leave to dangle or prune off and plant in a separate pot. In a notable 1989 NASA study, scientists found that spider plants absorb and filter common indoor air pollutants, namely formaldehyde, which can be found in paint and wood polish.

  4.  Peace Lily

    nutrition for healthy agingPeace lilies are known for their long stalks and distinctive white blossoms. Peace lilies also filter the air for toxins created from detergents, gasoline, and even smoke. Even in low-light settings, peace lilies will flower from weekly watering.

  5. Lisa Cane Tree

    If you are looking for something larger, you can’t go wrong with a Lisa Cane, also commonly called a “corn plant”. Once you start looking for them, you’ll realize how popular these are in offices, medical clinics and hospitals, and many community spaces. They can photosynthesize even using fluorescent lighting, although they prefer some natural light. They are truly a stately plant that instantly transforms a space.

You can practice self-care through eating nutritious foods, staying active, building cognitive resilience, and making your environment a place you like to be. The wonderful thing about bringing houseplants into your home is that while you are caring for them, they are also caring for you.

Topics: Fitness, Senior Living, Nutrition, Caregivers, Learning

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