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Rediscovering Life’s Blossoms: The Unique Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

One of the best-understood benefits of gardening for seniors is the continuance of physical activity into retirement to maintain strength and flexibility. But there are many more advantages to consider, such as a sense of purpose, mental well-being, and more opportunities to socialize, and others.

In this article, we will take a closer look at gardening for seniors and how this activity can improve the quality of life in our twilight years.

Physical Benefits of Gardening for Seniors:

Gardening Helps with Well-being in Your Senior Years Lady Happy in the garden

As we mentioned above, all doctors agree that one of the key benefits of gardening for elderly people is regular light physical exercise. Gardening-related tasks, such as watering, planting, digging, and others are extremely beneficial.

These activities improve overall fitness levels, flexibility, and mobility. When a person approaches old age, they tend to have reduced mobility, which is why many seniors sit down or sleep during the day.

This is bad because a lack of activity can lead to calorie retention and weight gain with all the associated health risks can be a real cause for concern.

Gardening gives a senior a chance to stretch their muscles, burn calories and get some fresh air at the same time. According to data released by the CDC, a senior can burn up to 330 calories per hour when they take part in light gardening activities.

How Gardening Helps with Well-being in Your Senior Years

Another important benefit of gardening for seniors is that it can reduce stress and anxiety. Older people can be anxious about certain things, and this can be especially harmful to their well-being if they have no outlet.

Feeling hopeless because you rely on others can degrade your sense of self-worth and having some responsibility for your own actions can certainly help.

Gardening can boost serotonin levels which improves our mood and drastically decreases feelings of depression and worthlessness.

Unique Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

Many care centers are now using “horticultural therapy” to lower the risk of high blood pressure and stress in their residents. Seniors that garden regularly have lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels because the soil contains bacteria that unlock serotonin.

Most people tend to feel better when they are outside in the sunshine and seniors are no exception. Exposure to the sun boosts our vitamin D levels which will boost our immune systems and aid in the absorption of calcium sourced from our diet.

This is extremely important because vitamin D is a vital nutrient that promotes bone formation, improves metabolic function, and improves our overall skeletal health. These are all important to managing arthritis, osteoporosis, and other degenerative conditions.

Gripping tools, pruning plants, and sowing seeds are all activities that can improve hand-to-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and overall dexterity for seniors.

But there are some basic precautions that need to be followed when we discuss the benefits of gardening for seniors in the sunshine. Seniors can be prone to dehydration and sunburn so there needs to be adequate drinking water, sunscreen, and wide-brimmed gardening hats to stay safe and comfortable outdoors.

Mental and Cognitive Benefits of Gardening for Seniors:

Lady Planting Vegetables

One of the more satisfying aspects of gardening is the planning stage and working in harmony with nature. There are a few challenges to overcome including seasonal planting, pest control, planting compatible plants, sticking to watering schedules, and much more.

These tasks have a definite mental component to them which makes them an interesting source of stimulation for elders. Keeping the mind active as we age is a proven way to reduce and/or mitigate the effects of cognitive decline.

There are many seniors that suffer from dementia and taking part in gardening can boost cognitive functionality. Some studies have shown that daily gardening activities could lower dementia risks by almost 36%. So, even light gardening tasks are a fantastic natural therapy treatment for seniors that are active.

Gardening requires a lot of detailed planning to situate the plants in the right location and to take care of them throughout the year. This requires some critical thinking skills that are proven to reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s in seniors.

Gardening is away to Stay Active When Unable to do Other Activities

At advanced stages of aging, driving starts to become a considerable challenge for seniors. This is unfortunate because the person loses their freedom to travel where they wish and those critical thinking skills that are applied to driving begin to atrophy. To keep these skills working after driving and to improve endurance and strength, gardening is an ideal activity.

One of the more mercurial benefits of gardening for elderly people that is worth exploring is the sensory stimulation experiences. Being stuck indoors in front of a TV is not an enriching experience compared to gardening outdoors.

During gardening activities, the senior will have every sense engaged to fully experience the sights, scents, textures, and sounds found in nature. This sensory stimulation can deliver a tremendous sense of alertness and mindfulness which may improve cognitive function, restore lost memories, and improve focus.

Social and Emotional Benefits of Gardening for Seniors:

Elderly Person Potting Flowers

The best way for seniors to take part in gardening is to connect with community garden programs, volunteering, gardening clubs, and other social groups. In these organizations, seniors can interact with their peers and other age groups to build solid friendships. This can engender a real sense of belonging that can be incredibly important for people that may feel isolated in different circumstances.

During voluntary gardening, seniors can share their wealth of life experiences with younger people. The young generation can learn a lot and they also have experiences to share. This can create inter-generational relationships to foster a mutual learning environment where everyone can benefit.

Gardening can be very therapeutic, nurturing a living plant and helping it to grow can be a source of joy for most people. When we observe nature, the cycle of life is obvious, and this can help a senior to find peace as they age. Having a sense of purpose can reduce any feelings of isolation and deliver emotional fulfillment.

Wrapping Up Benefits of Gardening for Seniors:

As you can see, there are considerable mental, physical, and social benefits of gardening for seniors. Gardening can give a senior a real sense of purpose and some much-needed independence to plan, maintain and bring their garden to life. Even a small garden can give a senior enjoyment, exercise, and stimulation to stave off the worse effects of aging. Gardening is a life-affirming and enriching activity that people can enjoy at virtually any stage of life.