Gardening is good for the mind, body and spirit, and these benefits can be even more dramatic for seniors. As seniors become more restricted in their daily activities, gardening offers a low impact way to connect with the earth and do something productive. Plus, the results will yield healthy, organic produce that has added benefits for nutrition and health.
Are you looking for activities to engage senior loved ones in your life? Whether its a small window box, patio containers, or raised bed planters in the backyard, these facts, tips and safety recommendations can improve a senior’s well-being.
Gardening Can Improve the Quality of Life for Seniors
A recent study by Texas A&M found that older adults who spend regular time in their garden reported a higher-quality of life than their non-gardening counterparts. The researchers stated, “Gardening is one of the most popular home-based leisure activities in the United States and has been reported as the second most common leisure activity, after walking, of adults older than age 65 years.”
Benefits of Gardening with Seniors Include:
Increased movement. Many physical ailments suffered by adults 65 years and over are connected to decreased activity levels. This is why senior centers, senior living communities and in-home caregivers place such strong emphasis on regular, low-impact exercises such as yoga, walking, water exercise, etc. The activities involved in gardening also provide low-impact exercise. You’d be amazed how much bending, stretching, reaching, and weight resistance is experienced through the regular gardening routine.
Fresh air and sunshine. The best source of vitamin D comes straight from the sun. A little exposure to sun and fresh air, when paired with adequate sun protection and hydration, can help to improve nutrition and mindset. Natural light is a proven mood elevator so tending to a garden on a fairly regular basis keeps the body in touch with nature’s rhythms.
Improved nutrition. There’s nothing like growing your own vegetables to inspire you to eat them. Planning a garden with seniors is a fun way to grow their favorite fruits and vegetables, which can be eaten right off the vine, out of the ground, or used in recipes for nutritious meals.
Seeing the fruits (literally!) of your labor. Perhaps one of the most uplifting things about gardening is the feeling of being productive, essential, and needed in some way. These feelings and experiences can diminish for seniors who do not remain active, or for whom part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities have disappeared as the result of mobility issues. Tending a garden requires meticulous and regular care and day by day, older adults get to watch the fruits of their labor.
Tips For Maintaining a Safe Senior Garden
Gardening is low-impact but it also has its fair share of risks. The following tips can ensure a senior’s gardening activities remain as healthful and beneficial as possible.
- Wear gloves and protective clothing. Thinner skin is more apt to bruise or become cut on branches, thorns and the edges and points of gardening tools. Gloves, long-sleeved shirts and pants will help to protect delicate skin.
- Raise the beds. If seniors have a difficult time getting up and down, raise the gardening beds so they can be accessed in a wheelchair or while standing. You can buy accessible gardening products online or use containers on tabletops for easier access. Have a stool nearby for resting.
- Cool gardening. Avoid full sun exposure by gardening in the earlier morning or later afternoon hours.
Spring is the season to start planting a garden with your senior and bring a little sunshine to their life.