February 27, 2009

Bring granny a houseplant

Caring for a houseplant can have very positive effect on the happiness of a resident in assisted living, U.S. researchers said.

The study, published in HortTechnology, found caring for houseplants increased feelings of mastery, self-rated health and self-rated happiness in 18 assisted living facility residents taking part for four weeks in a weekly, two-hour interactive horticulture class.

The residents -- given interactive plant care lessons and choices of potting containers and plants to bring home to care for -- became more socially connected and felt responsible for their plants.

The overall energy was positive and electric as everyone involved could not wait to see how their plants would fare the University of Nevada researchers Claudia Collins and Angela O'Callaghan said in a statement. The study participants got dirty hands, dirt on their clothes and felt competent.

Competence relates to mastery. This belief that one's actions and choices determine life outcomes, often diminishes when someone moves into a facility, the researchers said.

A loss of mastery has a negative impact on health and well-being. Mastery and self-rated health have been two of the most accurate predictors of the social concept of successful aging -- the concept of high mental and physical functioning and active engagement with life.