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Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

 

The benefits of gardening for older adults are immense. Apart from being a fun hobby, gardening offers a space to get active, be creative and connect with others who share your interest.

Research also tells us that any kind of nature-based activity can improve our physical and mental health, which is especially important as we get older. Seniors, caregivers and health care professionals alike can find great value in understanding the benefits of gardening for older individuals.

Whether you're harvesting hearty vegetables or filling your home with orchids, you'll find numerous ways to work gardening into your life. Read on to explore gardening benefits for seniors and how you can incorporate the activity into your daily routine. 

 

The Significance of Gardening for Seniors

As we age, it becomes more important to engage in activities that are mentally, socially and physically stimulating. Garden checks off all the boxes — it can provide a great workout, boost your mood and promote a sense of community. Here are just a few ways gardening can support a healthy, happy lifestyle for older adults.

Physical Health Benefits of Gardening for the Elderly

Gardening is a form of exercise that helps strengthen flexibility and improve mobility, making it an excellent activity for older adults. Some of its physical benefits include:

1. Exercise Opportunities for Seniors 

When gardening, you get much-needed exercise that improves overall physical strength. Whether you're lifting pots, digging, raking or planting, you may be burning just as many calories as a workout in the gym. For this reason, gardening activities can help older adults maintain a healthy weight, manage high blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease — all common concerns as we get older. 

2. Fall Prevention and Enhanced Mobility  

Gardening has been shown to improve balance, strength and flexibility, supporting healthy bones and protecting joints. By improving flexibility, you can increase your range of motion, lowering your risk of falls and injuries. Research backs this up, with common household chores like gardening and housework associated with a lower risk for future falls.  

Mental Health Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

Gardening is a beloved hobby for many older adults, cultivating a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Learning about plants, developing new skills, seeing the fruits of your labor grow and nurturing plants can all contribute to greater mental stimulation and self-esteem. The rewarding activity can also bring people together by way of shared interest.

Some mental health benefits of gardening for older adults include:

1. Stress Reduction and Improved Mood

Gardening, being around plants and getting ample sunlight exposure can all contribute to better mental health. Research shows that just being in nature can relieve stress and anxiety, so when you're watching your plants grow and thrive, you're boosting serotonin levels and improving your mental health.  

2. Enhanced Cognitive Function 

Gardening is believed to lower the risk of dementia while improving the quality of life for people living with it. The activity stimulates the brain, which can reduce cognitive decline. As you're gardening, you're focusing on a specific task, which can improve concentration and help your brain in the long run.

3. Social and Emotional Perks

Gardening is a group-oriented activity that can enrich your social life. Between planning the garden, planting seeds and completing tasks, it provides many opportunities to interact with others, which benefits mental health.

Whether you are part of a gardening group or contribute to a community garden, you'll get to bond with fellow garden enthusiasts, share wisdom and achieve a shared goal. The connections you make can provide a sense of belonging and purpose. 

Lifestyle Benefits of Gardening for the Elderly

Gardening can provide several lifestyle benefits for older adults: 

1. Nutritional Advantages of Home-Grown Produce 

Gardening gives you the opportunity to cultivate fresh fruits and vegetables. Having these fresh, organic foods at your fingertips means less time and money spent at the grocery store while ensuring a nutritious, balanced diet. You'll also get to explore new varieties of foods you wouldn't have thought to buy.

2. Promoting Independence Among Seniors

Gardening empowers older adults by helping them maintain an active and independent lifestyle. It helps improve your mobility, helping you get around easier on your own. Gardening also allows time for meditation, creativity and personal reflection. Many gardeners feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence by producing something they helped nurture.

infographic gardening for senior citizens

Implementing Gardening Into the Daily Routine

Gardening makes the best pastime for older adults, as it can be easily adjusted to your unique needs and abilities. You'll find several ways to engage in low-maintenance gardening that is both rewarding and manageable:

  • Consider the type of gardening: Seniors with limited mobility might prefer indoor gardening to prevent excessive bending or reaching. Outdoor gardens with containers can be easy to maintain, as they require less weeding and watering. Additionally, consider your commitment level. It's alright if you only have time for a small patio garden. If you're looking for more of a challenge, you might plan a larger backyard garden. 
  • Get the right tools: To ensure you're enjoying gardening safely, some adjustments might be necessary. If you have arthritis or another condition that limits mobility, raised beds and long-handled, lightweight tools can make tasks more manageable. 
  • Ensure adequate pathways: When you're out gardening, it's important that pathways are adequate and easily navigable to prevent trips or falls. 
  • Stay hydrated: While you're out in the sun getting vitamin D, it's critical to stay hydrated. The risk of heat-related illnesses rises as we get older. Drink plenty of fluids, take breaks and avoid being out in the sun for too long when gardening. 
  • Care for a communal garden: Communal gardens can provide even more benefits for older adults, as they offer a space for like-minded people to come together, make connections and bond. Plus, you can usually access resources like tools, water and soil. Less work is often required when you have a group of people working together.  

Note that gardening is all about progress, not perfection. Just being around green spaces can reduce stress and provide a sense of peace, making gardening a worthwhile activity for older adults. 

How Medical Care Alert Can Support Active Seniors 

Gardening offers numerous benefits for older adults. Incorporating gardening activities supports physical wellness, increases mobility, encourages social interaction and boosts creativity and well-being. Integrating a medical alert system can provide additional safety and peace of mind when you're out gardening. 

Medical Care Alert's home medical alert systemsmobile medical alert systems, and fall detection systems enable independent living. Our Senior SmartWatch is perfect for gardening and living an active lifestyle. Advanced GPS technology allows trained response specialists to track your location and dispatch help when and where you need it. Contact us today to find the right system for your lifestyle.