Flowers are among Mother Nature’s most magnificent and exotic gifts. Actually, they’re more important than most people realize. A 2001 scientific study done by Psychology professor, Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D, at Rutgers (New Jersey’s state University), proved that flowers have health benefits and help extend life.
Dr. Haviland-Jones, founder of the Rutgers Human Development Lab, is an internationally known authority on semiochemicals (fragrances and odors) that influence human behavior. In 2000, her first study focused on the psychological impact flowers had on people. It offered a special spotlight on women. However, she completed an extension of that study in 2001. It highlighted the significant ways flowers impact elderly mental health.
Three major conclusions from her research revealed flowers promote psychological well-being. First, they evoked an immediate, beneficial reaction of happiness, delight, and thankfulness among all age groups. Second, they have an emotional long-term effect. Third, they induce additional friendly and more personal connections with others. Furthermore, it showed these beneficial properties of flowers had an especially heightened direct and extensive impact on senior citizens.
Typically, senior citizens deal with the normal aging processes, including (but not limited to) memory loss, physical challenges, illness, depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal. Over 100 seniors participated in Dr. Haviland-Jones’s 2001 study. It revealed they were more affected by flowers and plants than the younger participants: 81% showed less depression after receiving flowers; 40% said they were inspired to have more communication with others (outside their normal contacts); and 72% demonstrated receiving flowers had a positive impact on rejuvenating memory.
Modern medical technological advances are aiding the growth rate of the world’s senior population. In the United States, there are approximately 40.2 million people who’re considered “elderly” (65 and older.) U. S. demographers report adults are living approximately ten years longer than their parents. The Centers for Disease Control reports the average longevity for both sexes, and all races is 78 years old.
Early 20th century American botanist, Luther Burbank, said, “Flowers make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.” Armed with the scientific proof flowers and plants improve health and longevity as well as evoking positive emotions, they should be a more visible component in our everyday surroundings as well as a favored choice for gift-giving. Current seniors are very familiar with the old phrase, “Flower Power!” Today, it has a whole new meaning.