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Therapeutic garden to improve mental well-being

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New garden opens in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

With its fragrant and textured plants surrounding a fitness area and benches, a new garden in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park aims to do more than just please the senses.

Called a therapeutic garden, it was designed by the National Parks Board (NParks) to provide respite and improve the mental well-being of visitors.

This and another garden in Tiong Bahru Park that have wheelchair-friendly fitness stations and planters that are sloped or of different heights opened yesterday.

Together with the first therapeutic garden launched at HortPark in May last year, the gardens are part of the Action Plan for Successful Ageing announced in 2015.

Activities such as nature art and gardening aim to stimulate participants' senses and memories through interaction with nature, and encourage motor and hand-eye coordination.

"Families don't have many good places to take the elderly with dementia," said Mr Stephen Chan, centre manager and occupational therapist at the Alzheimer's Disease Association.

"But when they are in a garden, they are in a safe space, and there is room for the family to mingle and for the elderly person to walk around."

He pointed out features, such as a distinct walking path and brightly coloured signs that are designed for those with dementia.

Each garden and its programmes cost $500,000, with construction firm Woh Hup funding the development of the 900 sq m garden in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park through the Garden City Fund.

NParks has also collaborated with the National University Health System to conduct studies on the effects of therapeutic horticulture on the elderly.

One study last year found that of 69 elderly residents in Jurong, those who engaged in such horticulture were more satisfied with life and felt more socially connected.

They were at less risk of depression and inflammation-associated diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

BishanAng Mo Kiogardening