For many people, gardening is an activity that is enjoyable on many levels. It’s a rewarding hobby that requires consistent effort but yields satisfying results. While people of all ages can benefit from this worthwhile pastime, it’s especially advantageous for older adults. Elder Care Alliance supports community members who want to nurture plants. Here are a few of the most notable benefits associated with gardening for seniors.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are closely tied together and associated with increased cortisol levels. While cortisol is required for various body functions, too much of it can lead to anxious feelings. That’s why cortisol is also commonly called “the stress hormone.” Excess stress can be particularly harmful in older adults because it can raise their heart rate and blood pressure, putting excessive strain on their hearts.
The good news is that gardening decreases cortisol levels and relieves stress. This stress and anxiety-lowering benefit make gardening for seniors an important therapeutic activity.
Poor sleep is one of the more common complaints among older adults. But regular exposure to fresh air and sunshine can help keep the circadian rhythm in check and facilitate optimal sleep patterns. Since gardening is outdoors in the sun, it can help support healthy sleep.
It feels good to have a sense of purpose and accomplishment in life. Older adults often struggle with diminished self-esteem because they are no longer responsible for raising a family or making a living. Gardening for seniors can be a confidence-boosting activity that reinforces a person’s sense of purpose.
Harvesting a garden isn’t just fun; it’s also good for your health. Seniors often struggle to get adequate nutrition, but this becomes easier when they can eat nutrient-dense foods from their gardens. Fresh, garden-grown produce tends to be richer in nutrients than its grocery-store counterparts, often exposed to sunlight and oxygen for long periods.
Improved Sense of Well-Being
Exposure to sunlight can boost the body’s vitamin D levels and improve mood. If you have a loved one struggling with a decreased quality of life, gardening for seniors may be just the thing to help boost their mood and give them more satisfaction.
Higher Physical Activity Levels
Exercise is essential for older adults, but it’s often more challenging for them to engage in it. But staying healthy and active is easier than you may realize. Gardening is more physically vigorous than it seems to be at first glance. Pulling weeds, watering, and harvesting produce all require energy and movement. Remember to have your loved one stretch before and after each gardening session to reduce the risk of a competitive use injury.
Gardening for seniors can be an enriching and therapeutic activity. If you or an older loved one struggles to stay active and energetic, consider growing and harvesting a garden this year. You may be surprised to discover just how beneficial such a simple action can be.