Gardening is the perfect pastime for seniors as it offers several benefits and can be easily tailored to everyone’s needs and abilities.

 

Gardening can provide many physical and mental health benefits for seniors

Improving moods

Helping with stress relief

Stimulating the mind

Increasing energy levels; and

Improving the sense of well-being

 

Seniors need community, and gardening is a great way to meet people.

Gardening is one of the best activities for seniors because it is low-impact and easy on the body.

 

 Dexterity Maintenance

As we age, it’s not uncommon for our dexterity to decline.

This can make everyday tasks more difficult and can even lead to a loss of independence.

Gardening is a great way to help maintain your dexterity, as it requires the use of both fine and gross motor skills.

The study’s participants were aged 58 to 86, and the research showed that those who gardened had “significantly higher” grip strength than those who didn’t.

 

Daily Light Exercise

Seniors need to get regular exercise, but it’s difficult to find an activity that is both easy on the joints and enjoyable.

Gardening is a perfect solution, as it provides a daily dose of light exercise without being too strenuous.

But how can you be sure seniors are not overdoing it?

Here are some considerations:

Check with a doctor before starting any new physical activity, including gardening.

Start slowly and gradually increase the time spent gardening as tolerated.

Stop gardening if you feel short of breath, have chest pain, or experience any other symptoms that concern you.

Tip: Seniors should ask for help if needed, especially with tasks that require lifting or bending.

 

Overall Health Improvement

Some of the most well-known benefits of gardening are the improvements it can provide regarding health, including:

Heart health: A 2017 study shows that gardening can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Bone health: Gardening, as a low-intensity activity, can also be beneficial for bone health by reducing the risk of osteoporosis and improving bone density.

Mental health: Another study found that seniors with dementia who participated in indoor gardening saw improved cognition than those who did not garden. Gardening can also help to reduce stress levels and improve mood.

 

Immunity Boost

Helping seniors get enough vitamin D from the sun: Vitamin D is essential for immunity, and the sun is one of the best sources of this vitamin. Seniors who garden regularly are more likely to get enough vitamin D than those who don’t.

Introducing new foods into the diet: When seniors grow their own food, they are more likely to try new things. This can help widen seniors’ food palettes and reduce their risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.

Exposing seniors to beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms: Gardening gives way to good microbes that can help improve gut health, which is linked to a strong immune system.

 

Reduced Stress & Anxiety

Gardening can help to clear your mind and provide a sense of peace.

It can help you stay grounded: When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, it can be helpful to ground yourself in the present moment. Focusing on tasks like gardening can help you forget about your worries and live in the moment.

It connects you with nature: Spending time outdoors in nature has been shown to have many benefits for mental health, including reducing stress and anxiety levels. Connecting with nature through gardening can help you feel calmer and more relaxed.

It’s enjoyable: Ultimately, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to do something that you enjoy. If you find gardening enjoyable, then it will naturally help lower your stress levels.

 

Sense of Purpose

As we age, it’s common to feel like we’re no longer needed or useful.

Gardening can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment for seniors.

For example, taking care of a living, breathing, “thing” can boost seniors’ spirits.

Even though caring for plants differs from caring for a human, watching plants grow can give us a sense of responsibility and pride.

 

Social Connections & Interactions

Gardening is a great hobby to help seniors meet and interact with other seniors that enjoy the hobby.

Seniors can talk about their gardens or give reason to…

Visit their neighbors

Share fruits of labor

Have dinner; or

Connect over similar hobbies

… which helps keep seniors connected and active in their community.

It’s also a great way to bond with family members and friends who share your interest. Gardening clubs and community gardens are also great places to make new friends and interact with other like-minded individuals.

 

Get the Right Tools

One of the most important things to consider when gardening is what type of tools seniors will need.

For seniors with arthritis or another condition that limits mobility, it is important to choose tools that are easy to grip and handle.

 

Adaptive tools: Specifically designed for people with limited mobility or strength

Long-handled tools: Helpful if you have limited mobility

Short-handed tools: Designed specifically for seniors

These kinds of tools are often lighter and easier to grip, which can make them much more comfortable to use.

 

Care for a Communal Garden

There are many benefits of communal gardens for seniors, such as those found at senior living communities.

Communal gardens provide an environment where seniors can come together to garden and enjoy the many benefits that gardening provides.

Some benefits of communal gardens include:

Less work

Easily accessible resources; and

Connecting with other community members

Less work is required when gardening communally because there is usually a group of people working together to maintain the garden. This eliminates the need for individuals to do all the work themselves.

Additionally, communal gardens usually have resources that are easily accessible to everyone — including tools, water, and soil.

Communal gardens also provide an opportunity for seniors to connect with other community members. This is especially beneficial for those who may be isolated or alone and want to meet new people and make new friends.

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