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Gardening for Seniors, 6 Benefits

gardening for seniors

The aesthetic combination of colours and decorative value that gardens provide is definitely worth the effort, and they make for a popular hobby for older adults.

Suppose gardening is an enjoyable activity for your parents or grandparents. In that case, it’s a good idea to support them in their efforts, as it brings about several benefits to health and wellness. Gardening also provides the practical use of eventually enjoying fresh flowers or homegrown fruits and vegetables.

Gardening for seniors is also considered a therapeutic activity, as it positively impacts the emotional, mental, and physical health of older adults.

Even during spring, when it might be too cold or damp outside for gardening efforts, your loved ones can still put their green thumb to use. Consider making use of any of these indoor plants within their living space.

Here are six benefits of gardening for seniors that outline why it’s a fantastic option for any older individuals looking to take up a new hobby.

Gardening benefits for seniors

 Exercise

Suppose you’re looking for a low-intensity activity for your loved ones to get their exercise. In that case, gardening is a good option as it requires only mild to moderate physical activity.

Alongside easy exercises, gardening as physical activity can provide several direct benefits such as:

  • Enhanced independent lifestyle
  • Improved mentally alertness and health
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased muscle strength, reducing the risk of falling
  • Decreased risk of coronary artery disease
  • Improved mobility

 Here’s how exercising happens during gardening

Gardening requires some level of physical activity, with tasks like moving or shifting soil and compost, uprooting plants, digging, watering plants, etc.

Moving the body to perform gardening activities stimulates blood circulation, helps maintain the participant’s muscles and burns any excess fat.

Gardening also requires regular activity and attention based on several factors such as seasonality, growth speeds, and harvesting in the case of fruits and vegetables. As such, it’s a great option to get exercise at moderate and regular levels throughout the year.

Better sleep, robust strength, and overall health

When older adults carry out gardening activities like weeding, grass clearing, digging, and moving plants, they work out their muscles and cardiovascular systems, which is always a good thing.

According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gardening activities like raking and grass clearing are considered light exercises, while shovelling and digging are considered more moderate activity levels. This means that gardening helps older persons remain fit and healthy.

Gardening also provides enough physical activity to help individuals rest better at night. There have been proven correlations between tiredness and quality of sleep, which leads to improvements in their overall health and well-being.

Improves mental health and cognitive function

Gardening encourages active thinking and problem-solving skills. It also helps keep the mind sharp and improves focus as participants attend to their tasks.

Activities and hobbies stimulating mental activity have naturally been proven to prevent or adequately manage mental illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Seniors’ gardening activities can significantly lower the risk of developing these conditions.

Studies show that enhanced cognitive abilities like problem-solving, endurance, agility and fine motor skills are among the gardening benefits for seniors, reducing the chances of developing dementia by 36%.

Serves as a mood booster

When gardening, the body secretes a chemical called serotonin in the brain, responsible for improved mood and a feeling of calm.

A scientific approach taken by one study found that a particular strain of bacteria in the soil can induce the release of serotonin, which also works as a natural antidepressant. However, it’s also likely that the sense of achievement from making efforts towards tangible results is also a possible reason why gardening leads to mood improvements.

Additionally, horticulture therapy can be a means of healing. Simply walking through a garden, park, or forest reduces stress hormone levels and improves the state of mind.

Social engagement and interaction

Gardening for seniors is an excellent way to socialize with their family, friends, and neighbours and even make new friends.

While gardening, your loved one can share ideas and interests while learning new techniques to improve their productivity in the garden.

People who are socially engaged, interactive, and occupied with fun activities are usually happier and healthier than those who are not.

This is why at Seasons Retirement, we organize activities for residents to interact with one another and encourage them to be a part of a group where they can socialize with others.

Minimizes Stress

As part of the therapeutic benefits of gardening, many older adults find the activity a great way to take their minds off complicated thoughts and enjoy the beauty of plants and flowers in their garden. The relaxing and slow-paced nature of the activity has been known to reduce stress and tension significantly.

After finishing their activities, your loved one will feel fulfilled with the outcome and should receive a boost in their overall mood.

In addition, gardening also lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels with exercising and body exposure to sunlight.

Best gardening practices

Although gardening for seniors can be a fun and relaxing activity, any participants should follow these tips to ensure the best results for their efforts.

  • Always follow product instructions, especially those that involve the use of chemicals. Some products like pesticides should be handled with extra care as they are harmful to the skin.
  • Make use of safety gear like goggles, gloves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes when gardening, especially when using sharp tools.
  • Take care to avoid overexposure to sun rays. Hats and sunscreen are handy to help block out sunshine by reducing glare and prolonged exposure.
  • Take regular breaks to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Try to take regular breaks to conserve energy and avoid muscle strain
  • In outdoor areas during specific seasons like spring and fall, use insect repellent to prevent stings and bites

Final thoughts

These benefits of gardening for seniors should provide plenty of motivation for your parents or grandparents to take up gardening as a hobby. If your loved ones are looking to take up a new pursuit in their free time, gardening would be a great suggestion. Work with them to find out what they’d be interested in growing, and determine the scale and scope at which they want to participate.

With Seasons Retirement ready to assist in whatever ways we can, you can help your loved ones enjoy activities such as gardening for seniors. Ask the Fun Manager if the home has a Gardening Club for more information.

 

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