Gardening is one of the many hobbies people have become interested in during the pandemic. Garden stores hit a boom during COVID, with supplies have been flying off the shelves like never before. For some people, gardening was a way to gain some control over their food supply with an uncertain future. For others, it was a hobby they'd always wanted to try but didn't have the time for due to busy work schedules. Many people have discovered that gardening has been a way for them to destress and stay active. But for seniors, especially those who were home-bound before the pandemic, gardening has always been a great way to to be active, both mentally and physically — and best of all, it doesn't have to be complicated or involve working long hours in the hot sun. Here are just some of the benefits gardening provides for seniors:
The Benefits of Gardening for Seniors
1. Exercise- Gardening is an excellent way for seniors to stay active and fit. It can be low impact, but also offers some cardio exercise depending on what your senior wants to do. Low impact types of gardening can include walking around a store to pick some plant starts, planting seeds and weeding. Cardio types of gardening are digging, pouring out bags of soil and compost, and moving heavier wheel barrows or garden carts that have supplies in them.
2. Emotional boost- Reports show that gardening can provide an emotional boost to the gardener. One study compared the emotional boost of other activities such as dining out and biking to gardening, and found that gardening offers similar benefits, especially if gardening activities are done within the community and company of others.
3. Healthier diet- Growing part of their own food supply can motivate and inspire your senior to eat better. It's much easier for your senior to simply walk outside and pluck a ripe tomato or cucumber fresh from their own garden, rather than making a trip to the grocery store.
4. Self-esteem and purpose- Seniors can relish their feelings of accomplishment and pride for what they’re growing in their garden, and for the gardening experience they can pass on to younger generations. (Gardening is a great way for seniors to connect with their grandkids!) Even a compliment on their flower garden by a passerby or being able to share some of their fresh produce with friends and neighbors can give them a sense of purpose, and help build self-esteem and self-worth.
5. Promote brain health- Many of the benefits of gardening stated above also benefit and contribute to good brain health and can help prevent or slow down dementia in older adults. Gardening can also help reduce anxiety and depression, and being outside can help your senior get vitamin D from sunlight which is important to many components of their health. Vitamin D can help boost immune health, decrease depression, decrease heart disease and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Container Gardening: A Great Solution for Seniors
As people get older, they can experience decreased mobility and dexterity, and memory loss. This may prevent some seniors from wanting to try gardening or from maintaining their current garden because of a limited ability to bend, stoop, balance and see. Container gardening can be a great way for your senior to garden without hard physical labor — and it's the perfect solution for seniors who don't have a lot of space.
Some plants are better for container gardens than others, but planting in containers can help prevent your senior from stooping or bending too much, and also offers a low-maintenance garden with little to no weeding, fewer pests, and is easier for them to water and fertilize than a traditional garden.
For some ideas on ideal plants that do well in containers, check out The Spruce.
For more information on the benefits of gardening, check out Healthline.com.
If your loved one loves gardening but is struggling with maintaining their garden on their own, our compassionate caregivers are able to help your senior with activities of daily living, including gardening! To find out more about what services we offer, check out our webpage here to schedule a consultation and discuss in-home caregiving services today!