Integrative research unit: social and individual development (Inside), Université du Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Laboratoire psychologie, santé et qualité de vie, Université de Bordeaux, France
This review of the literature tackles the question of the psychological benefits linked to gardening in older adults. First, the current data on these benefits are reviewed, and the findings reveal that gardening is linked to feelings of accomplishment, well-being and peace, a decrease of depressive symptoms, a protective effect on cognitive functions as well as to the development of social links for community living older adults. In institutionalized older adults, gardening promotes internal locus of control and well-being, and is related to a decrease of sadness and anxiety. Second, several explanatory theories are discussed. All of them postulate an action on the cognitive and/or emotional spheres, which were included into a integrated model that must be tested in future research. In conclusion, gardening appears to be a beneficial activity for promoting older adults’ functioning but the current knowledge still has to be extended to understand the specific mechanisms of action. This deeper understanding is necessary in order to improve the future actions depending on this activity.