Imagine waking up every morning to the refreshing smell of peonies. What about the smile it brings to your face when you lay your first sight on sun-kissed flowers? And, what about the way your heart melts when you see those little buds blossoming into beautiful flowers? Since gardening has so many perks, it is said to have many health and therapeutic benefits for older people. Experts suggest that it is one of the best activities to incorporate for seniors in their daily lives. Since medical conditions and physical disabilities may restrict older adults from performing several other physical activities, gardening is a low-impact exercise that allows most of the aging adults to enjoy the satisfaction of dirtying hands in warm mud. Even if they are suffering from medical conditions, a few changes to gardening methods and routine can help them stay safe and make the best of this activity.
Health Benefits of Gardening for Seniors
As mentioned above, gardening for the elderly is extremely healthy simply because it involves physical activity. Mild to moderate levels of physical activity for elderly can contribute magnificently to their health and lifespan. It enhances the overall quality of life and helps them live a fulfilling life. Gardening has numerous health benefits to consider.
- Moving around the garden is a great way to spend time in nature. It is a form of physical and mental therapy.
- Movements involved in gardening build strength, flexibility, and endurance. Even though it’s a low-impact form of exercise, it is enough to keep older adults healthy and moving.
- Gardening helps them create regular exercise habit which is extremely important to strengthen joints and bones.
- Studies suggest that gardening reduces the chances of several medical conditions such as osteoporosis.
- Also, spending time in nature improves cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of heart conditions like heart attack and stroke.
- Spending time in the sun help the body in producing Vitamin D naturally. It is an essential vitamin that prevents osteomalacia in adults. It is important to absorb calcium which is essential for bone strength and growth.
- Besides, gardening is a great way to keep your mind sharp and maintain sound mental health.
- It reduces stress and anxiety and trains the mind to relax and maintain a sense of calm and composure.
- Older adults are more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s which is detrimental to their mental and physical health. Gardening acts as therapy and keeps their cognitive faculties from getting affected due to aging.
- Gardening requires concentration. Thus, it is great to improve attention span and memory.
- Additionally, it provides older adults the opportunity to learn a new skill and put their mental faculties to use. Therefore, it increases self-worth and establishes a sense of achievement.
- Finally, it provides the opportunity to stay socially active, meet new people, and gain new experience through gardening communities.
- It is one of the most rewarding physical activities as suggested by studies. It truly is gratifying when you see your flowers blossom and your own nutritious produce.
However, old age may not be the ideal time to stress yourself physically. Some gardening activities might be more demanding than others. Therefore, it is important to follow a few preventive measures and gardening tips to stay safe.
- Use equipment suitable for older people: Gardening requires you to dig, plant, water, sow seeds, and do a lot more. All of these gardening activities require tools that are sometimes sharp or heavy to handle. Therefore, it is suggested to buy gardening equipment with good ergonomics. The grip must be soft, and length should be suitable for easy handling. This may cost a bit extra but investing in good gardening tools will go a long way.
Apart from that, raising beds is a good idea for older people with physical pains. This will allow them to bend less and work easily in their gardens. Use a sturdy table and chairs to work around in the garden.
- Keep yourself safe from sun and heat: With aging, your body becomes weaker and sensitive to environmental factors. Therefore, it is important to keep yourself safe from the sun and heat. You can add a shade over your gardening area and keep the area cool by avoiding direct sunlight.
- Don’t do it in peak hours: Even if you have made arrangements to keep yourself safe from the sun and heat, it is important that you avoid going out and work in your garden when the sun is at peak. This could be from 10.00 am to 2:00 pm in some areas and from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm in others. Avoid gardening outdoors at the peak of the summer. Not only does this raise the chances of heat stroke, but it also causes respiratory issues. If there is no way you can avoid working in the garden, it is best to do it early in the morning or late evening.
- Wear appropriate gear: Whenever you step out in the garden to work, make sure you have dressed appropriately. Lightweight clothing and shoes that allow you to move easily are highly recommended. More gardening tips for the elderly includes, wearing a sun hat to stay safe in the sun, applying sunscreen before stepping out, wearing long sleeve shirts to protect yourself from mosquito or insect bite, and wearing gardening gloves to prevent any skin damage.
- Stay safe in the garden: It is important to work cautiously. In case of cuts or injuries from the tools, it is best to tend to it immediately and visit the doctor for further treatment. Also, installing an alert system will provide extra assurance of your safety. In case of emergency, you can call for help immediately.
- Ask for help: Gardening is the best way to spend time with family. Ask for help from your children or grandchildren for various gardening activities and spend time doing it. While they may not be available every day of the week, it is a good idea to seek help on the most strenuous day of the week, probably when you are digging the soil or weeding.
Gardening for the elderly is truly beneficial. Therefore, several communities are encouraging horticulture activities for older adults. With the potential to improve overall health and improve quality of life, with their gardening efforts older adults can also add greenery to their surroundings.