When entering the more senior era of our lives, it’s important to not only keep the mind active but to also keep the body moving in age-appropriate ways. When choosing an activity to participate in, you have to consider safe and accessible ones that will benefit you in multiple ways, without placing too much strain on the joints and muscles .
Gardening is a wonderful activity that can enrich the lives of senior people in a multitude of ways. Even those with physical limitations or disabilities can participate with a slight modification to the methods or tools being used. Creating a colourful, practical and accessible garden will help to lift your spirits and take part in a hobby as you did in your younger years. In this blog, we will discuss the myriad of different ways that gardening can benefit seniors.
How Gardening Can Help Seniors Thrive
Lowers Stress And Anxiety
Gardening is proven to lower cortisol levels, which is the hormone responsible for stress and high blood pressure. Studies have shown that gardening is even more effective at reducing stress than reading a book, which truly speaks to the power of nature.
Basking in the warm sun, absorbing a little extra vitamin D and breathing in the fresh, natural air works wonders for lowering stress and anxiety. Then once you add in an activity that encourages mindfulness, seniors have found themselves a supercharged activity, built for relaxation.
Increases Serotonin And Overall Happiness
Spending time in the great outdoors and creating something to nurture can have wondrous effects on your overall mood and serotonin levels. Some may find getting their hands and nails dirty to be a bit of an inconvenience, however, studies have shown that physically touching soil and the soil-specific bacteria ‘mycobacterium vaccae’ can help to reduce feelings of depression. Mother nature has some wondrous and surprising ways of enriching the lives of senior people.
Helps Keep The Heart Healthy And Reduces Risk Of Stroke
While gardening doesn’t necessarily feel like exercise, it actually is. Walking from plot to plot, squatting down and digging, are somewhat low-impact activities that count towards the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise. These actions can be modified for all physical abilities and help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition to increased physical activity, higher vitamin D levels can also contribute to a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Improves Mobility And Physical Fitness
The physical nature of gardening can also help to improve physical fitness for senior people. Slowly moving around, bending, stretching and lifting items while gardening will increase your strength and overall mobility without consciously thinking about it. The best physical activity is the most enjoyable one.
Boosts Brain Function
Gardening requires seniors to engage in and display a number of different skills including problem-solving, dexterity, sensory awareness and endurance. All of these skills help to keep the brain active, improve overall function and even reduce the risk of dementia.
Easy Gardening Activities For Seniors
While you may not be able to perform every task required to create a lush, green oasis (like carrying heavy bags of potting mix), there are still many easy gardening activities that you can perform. These include:
• Preparing food with the harvested fruits and veggies
• Creating flower arrangements
• Enjoying the sights, scents and sounds of the garden
Tips for modifying garden activities for seniors
To ensure that you are gardening safely and enjoyably, you may want to consider making a few adjustments to the equipment or the garden itself. After all, gardening should be an activity that enriches your life, not cause pain or discomfort. To make gardening more accessible for senior people, you may want to consider the following:
• Raise garden beds to avoid bending over or crouching.
• Utilise vertical planters for easy access.
• Have chairs, tables and stools to sit and rest your tools on when needed.
• Modify existing tools using foam and tape to provide better grip. Alternatively, you can purchase modified tools from some hardware stores.
• Use lightweight tools that are easy to handle and move.
• Provide access to shade.
• Have a tap nearby for easy watering.
• Ensure that you have a drink of water near by to avoid dehydration.
It is clear that gardening provides a myriad of benefits for senior people. By creating a safe gardening space, you will feel the benefits and begin to flourish almost immediately – much like the garden itself.