Benefits of Gardening for the Health of the Elderly

Nowadays, most of us are dealing with lockdown due to COVID-19, and the virus has made the elderly spend most of their time at home. There are various hobbies for seniors that they can enjoy during this period, and gardening is one of them. Growing plants and gardening is an enjoyable and rewarding activity for older adults. The benefits of gardening for seniors are numerous, and in addition to entertaining, it is also beneficial for improving their health. In this article, we are going to talk about the well-being benefits of gardening for seniors :

Gardening Reduces Stress

Studies have shown that gardening can lower cortisol levels, reducing stress, and even lower blood pressure. In one study, two senior participants had to read a book and do gardening for 3 minutes after a stressful activity. The results showed that the cortisol level decreased after the activities in both groups, but the group that started gardening felt much better, while the group that read the book was less energetic.

Besides, exposure to outdoor sunlight and creating a gardening space will reduce anxiety and provide well-being for the elderly.

Gardening Releases Serotonin

benefits of gardening for elderly

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that increases tranquillity and causes a positive change in mood. One of the benefits of gardening for older adults is increasing the serotonin level in their minds, followed by a pleasant health experience. In some studies, gardening even reduces depression. This study showed that contact with a specific bacterium in the soil causes serotonin release in the brain and acts as a natural antidepressant.

Gardening Protects Hearts and Reduces Stroke Risk

Physical exercise while gardening is another beneficial factor of gardening. Gardening can be considered a great sport and as a daily exercise. According to a study conducted in Sweden, regular gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people over 60 by 30%. Also, exposure to the sun can increase vitamin D levels, which reduces the risk of a heart attack in old age.

Gardening can increase mobility

benefits of gardening for elderly

As discussed earlier, gardening has various advantages for the health of seniors. The movements done during gardening can build power and strength, increasing the mobility of less exercised muscles. The workouts during gardening can help the elderly prevent diseases such as Osteoporosis. 

On the other hand, gardening is light exercise. Since all body parts are involved, it can encourage the person to use all motor skills.

Gardening Improves Brain Health in Elderly

While the causes of Alzheimer‘s and ways to prevent it are not well known, research has shown that positive choices and positive activities in people’s lives reduce the risk of developing the disease. Gardening is one of the methods that can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Studies have shown that gardening can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%.

It Is Possible To Lose Weight By Gardening

Gardening involves planting and pulling weeds and can help the seniors burn 200 to 400 calories per hour that is very appealing. It is an activity where you have to bend, squat, stretch, and pull essential elements in most exercise plans. Hence, gardening can act as an exercise to shed extra fat.

Gardening Improves Immune System

You might think that gardening involves working with the soil, and it can be messy. However, several studies have shown that Mycobacterium vaccae in the soil become your immune system’s power. This bacteria can protect you against asthma, some allergies, and, most importantly, depression.

Gardening Improves Mood

Usually, gardening is in the fresh air, and it can help your mood. as said before, working under the sunlight also gives us more vitamin D, which affects our mood. Therefore, gardening is one of the best ideas for those of the elderly suffering from depression. Please consider that the sun’s rays can be dangerous, so applying sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses while working in the garden is necessary.

Gardening for Seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease

If the older adult has Alzheimer’s disease and is struggling with a dementia disease, be sure to consider a garden area that is safe for them, and you can easily protect them.

Gardening activities play a vital role in improving the physical and mental health of seniors. If you do not have access to a garden, you can use pots for window space or a small space on the terrace to consider gardening and use small ready-made gardens. In this case, they won’t need to go outside to the garden and enjoy the company of flowers and plants beside them.

So far, we have discussed various effects of gardening on seniors’ health, but there are some safety measures that the elderly have to pay attention to while gardening. Some of these measures are as follows:

benefits of gardening for elderly

Use Big Vases

While gardening at home, it is necessary to use large and tall pots to help the elderly not bend over. That prevents back pain as well as dizziness.

Use Lighter Gardening Tools

We are not expecting that people over 65 to become professional gardeners. So they do not need to use bulky agricultural devices and tools. You may need many gardening tools, so choose the lightest ones to avoid abusing your body and have a pleasant gardening experience.

Wearing gardening gloves and comfortable shoes are also a necessity. There might be some chemicals and fertilizers in the soil that can damage your skin. The uneven surface of the land also can irritate your feet. Never forget suitable shoes.

Use Sunlight Protection

As noted earlier, sun rays are beneficial for absorbing vitamin D, but excessive exposure to the sun can damage the body. Older adults shouldn’t work too much on hot sunny days. They should use sunscreen, hats, or umbrellas designed to protect them from the sun. Having a water bottle beside you is very important because of dehydration, which is extremely dangerous during old age.

Have a Gardening Chair

The elderly shouldn’t bother themselves too much during gardening. Seniors have started this activity for fun, and it is a hobby for them, so they should take care of themselves. Having a chair is necessary since they can sit and rest when they are tired. It is also possible to create a shade to sit and enjoy watching what they have achieved. The advantages of gardening for seniors do not stop when the plants and flowers flourish. The garden should be a place to enjoy, and placing some benches and chairs can make it a proper place to enjoy nature’s scenery.

Conclusion

benefits of gardening for elderly

The elderly need a companion to let go of their sense of loneliness, and gardening is one of the safest solutions. Some seniors decide to keep a pet as a companion, but this is not 100% safe because of potential infections. Plants live and need care as children, so the elderly can busy themselves taking care of them.

As mentioned earlier, there is no need to have an outdoor garden. You can create a mini garden in your yard, or you can plant some flowers on the windowsill. Nowadays, seniors can use the terrarium, too. A terrarium is a container made of glass that is sealed and contains soil and plants. It is possible to open them for maintenance and access the plants. They are suitable for old adults who cannot leave the house to enjoy gardening.

The utmost enjoyment of gardening comes from seeing crops or flowers. They create a sense of life in seniors. Regardless of whether they are planting crops or flowers indoors or outdoors, they can feel this sense. So, to provide the condition for the seniors to start gardening, don’t hesitate.

Source homecareassistance betterhealth fivestarseniorliving
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Frank Walterstein
Frank Walterstein
7 months ago

How can we build a greenhouse in the homes? and how can we foster tropical fruits like Banana or pineapple at home? is it possible to produce them in a greenhouse or not?

David. Rd
David. Rd
Reply to  Frank Walterstein
1 month ago

Hi Frank! It’s so cheap and easy to make. It’s not as same as the big ones, but you can make a mini indoor greenhouse with egg containers. Fill them with soil; then, plant the seed, moisten and cover it with a plastic wrap. Tada! You have a mini greenhouse now. I’m not sure about fostering the fruits, but I guess it’s possible with bigger types of an indoor greenhouses.

Jade
Jade
7 months ago

My grandfather is turning 85 this year, and he’s still taking care of his garden all by himself. He looks healthy and strong even at this age. Of course, it’s not all because of gardening. He watches his diet and has a healthy, active lifestyle. But still, every time he tends to his garden, you can see he’s enjoying it. I think even if it doesn’t have an effect on his physical health, it’s sure helping his mental health.

Elsa
Elsa
7 months ago

A couple of months ago, I saw a youtube video about planting trees at home. I like plants, so I got some lemons and planted the seeds in a container. Two weeks later, they had the first bud, and they are still growing, can’t wait for the fruits!

Honeybee
Honeybee
1 month ago

I’m pretty sure part of these effects are due to gardening’s remarkable amount of physical activity. It’s a win-win.

Liliane
Liliane
Reply to  Honeybee
1 month ago

Sure it is, and also in my idea, it can be because of its mood-boosting effects.
A good mood is a source of happiness and joy, so you start feeling better. To me, mood and spirits are the primary sources of well-being. Well, of course, you should be one of those who enjoy working with plants; otherwise, those mental effects won’t show up.

Ethan
Ethan
1 month ago

My boyfriend loves gardening. One day, he showed a video about making a small indoor garden to my mom and convinced her to create one. Ever since, they’ve become each other’s #1 gardening pals. He even grows his own plants and vegetables in my mom’s garden so she can learn how to maintain certain hard-to-grow plants. While I’m not into gardening myself, I can definitely see why they enjoy it so much. It’s like having your own kindergarten of plants. It’s fun, not too tricky, and a great way to bond with each other, as my family did.

Emma
Emma
1 month ago

My dad loves it, and after years, I know why.
Gardening takes patience, which seniors have had to develop over time. Also, psychological time passes faster with age, so the wait for seeds to sprout and plants to grow seems relatively brief to them.
Gardening is very simple and complex, rewarding the gradual accumulation of skills and knowledge. It is fundamentally a nurturing and fostering process, which always appealed to my dad.
He said flowers and fruit are an everyday but timeless miracle made of air, water, nutrients, and solar energy. 

Liam
Liam
1 month ago

My dad loves it, and after years, I know why.
Gardening takes patience, which seniors have had to develop over time. Also, psychological time passes faster with age, so the wait for seeds to sprout and plants to grow seems relatively brief to them.
Gardening is very simple and complex, rewarding the gradual accumulation of skills and knowledge. It is fundamentally a nurturing and fostering process, which always appealed to my dad.
He said flowers and fruit are an everyday but timeless miracle made of air, water, nutrients, and solar energy.

Jenn
Jenn
1 month ago

My mom loves gardening. She made a small garden in our courtyard, and no matter what happens, she takes care of her plants every single day. She loves her plants and takes care of them like her kids! We’ve also noticed significant changes in her behavior since she decided to do gardening. She became happier and more passionate and even looked healthier. Furthermore, after a while, we didn’t need to buy vegetables anymore cause we could use our own plant vegetables, which is one of the best advantages of having a greenhouse. They’re 100 percent organic, fresh, and even more flavorful.

Benjamin
Benjamin
1 month ago

Gardening saved my mental health. After my wife passed away, I tried everything. Nothing like gardening soothes me. It’s a great way of passing the time and staying calm.

Ted
Ted
Reply to  Benjamin
1 month ago

I agree with you, Ben. Since the pandemic has begun and we have to stay at home, I have started getting more and more plants both in my home and outside. It has helped, also gives me something to do. I am new to gardening. I love watching my garden grow and being out in it, even if I did not get much production from it. Ever since I have been doing it, I have been feeling much better. Being in the company of plants helps my stress levels, anxiety levels, and it soothes me.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ted
Torry
Torry
3 days ago

I recently read that soil has anti-depressant qualities.
Well, I’m not a chemist but what I can say is that gardening is incredibly therapeutic. It’s rewarding to see your seeds and plants grow….
No matter how clever you are, no matter how popular you are with other people, plants don’t really care…
It makes you think about something besides yourself, and if you grow vegetables, they are probably healthier than what you buy in a store.
Also, hard physical work is good for our age.
Gardening helps the time pass quickly as it’s totally absorbing.
Try it and see.