Updated: Aug 20, 2022
Gardening has plenty of health advantages and benefits for the elderly as there are seeds on a poppy. Some studies indicate getting down and dirty in the garden is a great method to improve someone's mental and physical health.
Whether you are in an assisted nursing facility or living alone, gardening will undoubtedly push you to exercise both the mind and the body. Gardening is also a terrific form of therapy and a great way to engage in community service.
5 Health Benefits of Gardening for Elders
Here are some of the health benefits of gardening to elders:
1.Exercise and burn calories
You can burn a steady 200 to 400 calories every hour by simply planting and pulling weeds. Gardening requires various large movements of the body, including bending, squatting, stooping, stretching, and tugging.
Beyond caloric burning, gardening can also help improve strength and dexterity, aerobic endurance, muscle mass, and functional movement.
2. Muscle-strengthening There is no need to stop the muscles from deteriorating or weakening. Spending ample time gardening every week will provide you with the necessary exercise and workout you need to keep in shape.
Gardening is pretty much a whole-body exercise. Many underestimate it, but in reality, gardening works out all of the major muscle groups in the body. That includes the back, legs, neck, buttocks, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. 3. Stress-reducing Gardening improves hand-eye coordination, which allows the body and brain to work in sync. It also reduces stress-producing cortisol levels and elevates serotonin, a relaxing and calming chemical in the brain that puts you in a good mood.
4. Decreases risk of dementia
Gardening reduces the chance of dementia. Its physical demands and critical thinking skills about what to plant and how to care for it can lessen the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
5. Vitamin D
A few hours under the sun will provide you with more vitamin D than a glass of milk every night. Although, do not overdo it since overexposure can be harmful.
Staying Safe Outdoors
Even a few minutes outside can be dangerous, especially if you're in your older years or caring for an older parent or loved one. You can keep safe by:
Always keeping a first-aid kit handy – Having a first-aid kit on hand is a good idea. Treat cuts, insect bites, scrapes, and bruises as quickly as possible.
Wearing sunscreen when going out – Even if the sun isn't scorching hot, UV radiation can still cause the skin to burn and become red. Sunburns that are too severe might be fatal.
Storing all tools in the proper places – Tripping hazards can be created by tools such as trowels, spades, and rakes. When using and handling electric or battery-powered power tools, exercise extreme caution.
Latching your gates and making sure to repair damaged fencing – It will aid in keeping unwanted animals out of your home. If memory loss is also a significant concern, securing the space is surely crucial.
Being aware of your limits and knowing what you are capable of – This is important, especially if you are gardening outside in the heat. Make sure to take as many breaks as you need. Avoid stressing about what you did not get done.
What Should You Plant? Seniors and their families can work together to raise delicious veggies in containers or on a plot of land throughout the growing season. Seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can emerge in the spring. Some plants or vegetables may require grow tents to fit the conditions they need to fully grow and bloom. The same can be said about peppers and tomatoes during the early summer. If you have small spaces, you can grow strawberries and blueberries, although they still require some room to spread.
Flowers are lovely at any season or time of year, but what if you’re growing them outside your home? It might be best to stick to flowers that are local or native to your area and region. Native flowers are more low-maintenance and don't require a green thumb to grow and keep.
Some flowers that can provide a lot of colors to your garden are iris, black-eyed susan, bloodroot, purple coneflower, grape hyacinth, lupine, daffodil, lilac, tulip, and pansy.
Basic Gardening Tips
Set yourself up for success by following these recommendations. It goes no matter what you want to plant!
Determine what will work best under the sun or in shady sections of your garden before planting outside. In diverse soils, you will find that flowers, vegetables, and fruits can grow in various ways.
It may or may not be essential to use plant food or fertilizer. If you do end up using it, choose something organic!
To keep pests at bay and prevent moisture from evaporating, cover each plant with 2-3 inches of mulch.
If there is not enough rain, make sure that there is a water source nearby. It is so you can irrigate your plants more readily. A simple garden hose or watering bucket would suffice.
It is better to tend your garden during the mornings and nights. The temperature is colder at those times.
Clippers, a spade, gardening fork, hand trowel, and thick gloves are all useful tools to have on hand.
You should wear gardening gloves, sturdy shoes, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses when outside.
Just because everything is planted, does not mean that the health benefits of gardening for seniors end too. You can set up comfy seats or benches beneath shaded spots to make your garden "senior-friendly."
If you are not one to go outdoors regularly, consider creating a "mini-garden" in pots or
containers on a windowsill. Terrariums are also a viable alternative since they are lush and
serve as a reminder that life is still a garden of possibilities.
For elders who want to try gardening but need assistance, you can try reaching out to an Aged Care provider in Geelong. Not only can they help with housework, they can give a hand in gardening tasks, too!