The Best Indoor Plants to Help Seniors Breathe Easier This Summer

By Stacy McBee, Photo courtesy of: PXFUEL

A number of flowers will take your breath away, but if you want to breathe easier, you need to fill your home with indoor plants. Aside from their aesthetic appeal, houseplants are beneficial to our well-being, especially for seniors. Here in Arizona, we have a multitude of indoor and outdoor plants to brighten up our homes and help clear our lungs.

Cleansing Plants

There’s no doubt houseplants will reduce the dust by 20%. Rubber tree plants act as air filters and can benefit older people whose immune systems have begun to weaken. Controlling allergies in Arizona is especially important because the mild climate keeps pollen from freezing out in the winter.

But let’s clear the air over a recent controversy involving a NASA study on whether plantsabsorb toxic substances found in homes. Scientists found plants indeed remove chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde. But researchers at National Geographic point out you would need a virtual forest in your home to do a better job than your HVAC system.

Anxiety Reducers

You’ll breathe a lot easier in a peaceful environment. The increased oxygenation of plants improves energy, mood, and mental focus. The beauty and aromatherapy of houseplants can have a soothing effect. Herbs such as mint provide a pleasant aroma as well as add taste to tea and recipes. Lavender has been famous for centuries for its soothing aroma. The sight and smell of familiar flowers can bring back pleasant memories for older people.

Go Native

Some indoor greenery can be high maintenance, which may intimidate older people. There are a lot of easy-care plants available, though, and many in Arizona can thrive indoors as well as out.

Many of the best native plants for your Arizona yard can be brought indoors to brighten your day and add color to your yard. One of the best choices? The saguaro cactus. Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the only place on earth where it grows, and it can easily be transplanted to an indoor flower pot.

Here are some other good choices for Arizona:

  • Yucca: Thought of mainly as an outdoor tree, it can do quite nicely indoors. It’s ideal for bright sunny spots near windows and is happy with just a weekly watering.
  • ZZ Plant: Its very name implies relaxation, but the plant is also an excellent air filter and has a  reputation for being one of the most durable plants available. It can live indoors or out.
  • Snake Plant: Another low maintenance plant with a reputation as a stalwart air cleaner. It comes in a large variety of sizes and styles.
  • Aloe Vera: This succulent is one of the most versatile of plants. It’s low-maintenance and is suited to the indoors. Its leaves are famous for their healing ability.  A leaf plucked off and lightly rubbed can relieve the discomfort of sunburn.

Other Plant Perks

A little greenery can promote healing and pain tolerance. People who are around plants while recovering from surgery need less pain medication and often have shorter hospital stays.

Plants release moisture into the air – a crucial plus in a dry climate like Arizona. Plants release water vapor through their leaves in a process called transpiration. This makes breathing easier and alleviates dry skin. The spider plant is well known as a natural humidifier.

Houseplants enhance focus and concentration. One study showed living plants prompted improvements in attention and concentration among students and can do the same among seniors. Indoor gardens stimulate the senses and can stave off dementia. It’s also a great way to stay physically active.

Arizona is fortunate so many succulents that can do well indoors with minimum care. It gives seniors a wide variety of greenery to choose from that can keep them happy and healthy.

Stacy McBee has been gardening since she was 3 years old, thanks to her parents, who owned a produce stand. She is now retired, but continues gardening on her apartment balcony and often trades plants and clippings with her neighbors.

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