Gardening has become widely known by doctors, psychologists, as well as researchers to have powerful effects on the body and mind of individuals. Moreover, the health benefits of gardening for seniors are immeasurable.
Gardening is not only empowering, but also helps build physical strength, improves motor functioning, alleviates stress, and also helps encourage positive mental well-being.
There are numerous mental health perks, as well as physical health benefits, of gardening, specifically for seniors.
Maintaining a garden properly takes a considerate amount of effort and dedication, which makes it an ideal project to take on for seniors looking for something to do that will make them feel engaged in their downtime.
It gives seniors something to work on and be proud of as well. Moreover, gardening also helps keep their minds active which is actually good for their moods and maintaining their cognitive functions as well.
Apart from these few benefits of gardening mentioned above, we are going to talk about more ways how gardening can benefit seniors:
Psychology Today reports have stated that the nurturing aspects of gardening help boost people’s self-esteem. Research has shown how spending only 30 minutes working in a garden can help boost an individual’s self-esteem.
Furthermore, gardening also enables a person to let go of anything that is bothering them, at the same time preparing themselves for a good night’s sleep that will, in turn, boost their self-esteem as they wake up prepared for the next day.
Studies from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science have found that exposure to nature for as little as 90 minutes can help reduce chronic depression and improve overall mental wellbeing. Gardening will help seniors dissolve tension, depression, anger, and confusion they might be struggling with every day as they age- just by breathing in the fresh air, being in the sunshine, and among nature.
Moreover, seniors who suffer from anxiety as well should engage in gardening as it delivers sustenance, beauty, and self-esteem – all counterpoints to overcoming anxiety and depression. Working productively in a garden helps increase serotonin levels in the brain, which will result in a happier mood throughout the day.
Just breathing in the fresh air can do wonders for their mood and health. Even the sun’s rays will not only cause their body to produce vitamin D but will also boost the serotonin levels as well.
Gardening also helps promote relaxation and releases chemicals in the brain that combat stress, according to Psychology Today.
Working in the garden helps reduce cortisol levels, which is a chemical present in our body produced in response to stress. Just sitting in a garden helps alone, too. This is the reason why hospitals are now adding gardens to their facilities in order to help patients heal faster.
Connecting with nature is proved to have a calming effect on individuals as well. People are generally happier when they see something beautiful, whether it’s a flower or a piece of art, according to The London School of Economics.
Gardening also develops a sense of responsibility that can help give seniors a purpose.
Caring for gardens and plants is specifically great for seniors who need a sense of purpose. Nurturing plants helps to provide similar satisfaction to caring for another human, and this is an ideal way to maintain the physical and emotional benefits of nurturing.
Therefore, gardening not only increases self-worth and provides a sense of accomplishment but also encourages patterned behaviors. Remembering to water a plant daily can improve the memory of a senior, which will be helpful for remembering to take their medication.
Gardening is simple- it often requires rhythmic and patterned work that doesn’t require too much focus or stressful problem-solving. Therefore, it is an ideal pass time for seniors, specifically, who don’t need to focus too much or strain on activities.
Overall, gardening will help improve an elderly’s endurance and strength. It is, furthermore, an ideal activity that will encourage the use of all their motor skills.
Gardening is a great low-impact way for seniors to achieve the much-needed physical activity that is good for their muscle growth and heart health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that gardening is a recommended strengthening exercise for people over the age of 65. Seniors in this age bracket are recommended to participate in muscle-strength activities at least two days a week, including light aerobic activities like walking or biking, in order to prevent age-related health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and even cancer.
Gardening, as well as maintaining it is an ideal form of activities, as it includes weeding, fertilizing, pruning, and watering which requires individuals to dig, hoe, and lift, which are all ways to engage muscle groups across the body.
Gardening also requires bending, twisting, and walking around, which is a great workout for their bodies, and also provides some of the necessary aerobic activity for an ideal balanced workout routine.
Research has shown that spending time with plants daily may reduce the likelihood of dementia by up to 36%, according to a 16-year study of 2,800 seniors conducted at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Australia.
Moreover, even indoor gardening activities are recommended for dementia patients, as a method of sensory stimulation to help improve the cognitive behaviors of seniors.
As adults age, they are more likely to feel isolated and lonely, due to a variety of reasons. Therefore, gardening can be an extremely social hobby for elders specifically and will help reduce those feelings of isolation as well.
It would be even better if the elderly meet like-minded people each day, for instance, sparking up a conversation and getting to know their neighbors while gardening.