If you’re researching ways to keep senior loved ones healthy, you’ll read how important it is to get up and keep moving. A little bit of exercise goes a long way when it comes to senior well-being – mental, physical and emotional.
Gardening is a very simple way to get your senior loved one outdoors, exercising and doing something productive and enjoyable. In fact, the research around this exact topic is so clear that most assisted living and senior care facilities have some type of therapeutic garden on the premises in order to facilitate the healing and health of their residents.
Plant a small garden and reap tremendous rewards
Whether you’re the primary caretaker for a senior or you’ve hired an in-home care provider to help out from time to time, planting a garden is a wonderful way to connect with a senior loved one. If you choose to plant a vegetable garden, you’ll also be helping to provide a fresh, nutritious food source for their meals!
Here are some of the benefits of gardening for seniors:
Access to nature is a balm for many ailments
Research has shown over and over again that access to sunlight, nature and the outdoors helps to remedy depression and loneliness, elevates mood, promotes healing and can improve both appetite and sleeping habits. Since gardening takes place outdoors or in a sunlight-filled greenhouse, seniors reap all of these benefits in a single activity, close to home.
It encourages the use of muscles, bones and motor skills
The more sedentary we become, the more we lose muscle tone, bone strength, and our motor skills. This results in loss of strength, balance, the ability to move freely and can also impact cognitive function. Gardening requires just enough strength, motion and dexterity that it winds up providing a wonderful workout without the feeling that you have to “get to the gym” or make a conscious effort to leave the home. It can also help to prevent osteoporosis, balance blood sugar levels, and build endurance.
Gardening can support Alzheimer’s and memory care
Gardening is a universal skill and a passion shared by many. When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they can lose the ability to participate in groups, hobbies or activities they used to love. The simple, methodical actions required by gardening make it a creative, productive and successful environment for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It also provides a way for family members and loved ones to connect with a relative with Alzheimer’s in a shared setting.
Gardening is just plain fun
There is something fun and magical about planting seeds and watching them grown no matter how young or old you are. For elders who no longer have children, grandchildren or pets in close proximity to care for – the garden becomes like a nursery, offering a place for them to nurture living things. It’s not hard to imagine while gardening has been shown to reduce instances of elder depression and loneliness.
Make the garden safe, accessible and senior-friendly
There are some accommodations to be made so the garden is safe and senior friendly. These include things like:
- Using raised beds or tables to minimize bending and to accommodate wheelchairs and mobility aids. Vertical gardening, trellises and retractable hanging baskets are also options.
- Purchasing watering wands and tools with longer handles to improve a senior’s reach. Also, make sure that tools are light, which makes them easier to manipulate.
- Adding foam or grip tape to handles to improve a senior’s grip
- Providing plenty of shade and sun protection as well as hydration breaks.
- Ensuring tables and chairs are completely stable to reduce the chance of tipping or falling as seniors get up and down.
Is your senior loved one spending too much time lying or sitting, feeling lonely or housebound? Perhaps it’s time to set up an outdoor garden. Whether you’re able to build raised garden beds or keep it simple using containers, any amount of physical activity and time spent outdoors will improve their daily life.
Need a little assistance? Contact HomeAide Home Care and schedule a consultation. Our dedicated staff can provide the companionship and assistance to help your senior get out and about, enjoying their favorite daily activities.