With Spring in full swing this month, gardening is a great hobby for older adults to engage in. Not only does gardening have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing, it has positive effects on aging as well.
There are many ways that gardening can benefit older adults:
- Promotes strength and mobility. Even light exercise like gardening has been shown to slow down the aging process. Try to do some gentle stretches before gardening to avoid hand injuries common to gardeners.
- Reduces stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that gardening can lower the cortisol levels in your body—the hormone responsible for the stress response. With lower levels of cortisol, your blood pressure and glucose levels can decrease and remain more stable.
- Helps with vitamin D intake. Fresh air does wonders for your mood and health. So does sunshine! Sunlight is they body’s natural source of vitamin D, which promotes skeletal health and reduces risk of depression. Just don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays with sunscreen!
- Benefits those with dementia. By stimulating several of our senses, gardening can connect our aging loved ones with their present physical environment. It can bring a sense of peace and concentration to someone who may be restless or agitated. Gardening also requires a degree of dexterity and sensory awareness, which helps to maintain motor skills and improve endurance and strength.
Easier Gardening for Seniors
Squatting, kneeling, bending, weeding, and pruning can all become more challenging as we grow older. Gardening can become especially difficult for older adults because of a higher incidence of painful conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. Luckily, there are ways in which your loved can still enjoy this hobby without the chronic pain of these ailments:
- Use raised beds. Raised garden beds are one way to eliminate the strain of bending. Tall raised beds make seeding, weeding, and harvesting much easier on your back.
- Vertical gardening. Many fruits and vegetables grow well when trellised. Monitoring the garden for bugs, spraying and harvesting are all much easier when everything is within close reach. Try this with cucumbers, squash, melons, beans, and many other vegetables.
- Kneeler stool. A kneeler stool is a tool you can use to enjoy gardening with minimal pain. Kneeler stools have a thick foam pad that is comfortable for your knees. The hand grips make it easier for you to transfer from kneeling to standing and vice versa. You can flip the kneeler over to become a comfortable stool to sit on while tending your plants.
- Ergonomic tools. Ergonomic pruners have comfortable handles and gears that can make cutting much easier. These are also easy on the hands to reduce arthritic pain.
- Alternate between tasks. Even with good equipment, gardening can be taxing on different areas of the body. Alternate between tasks that use different sets of muscles—switch between pruning and raking every 30 minutes, or alternate hoeing and hand weeding.
Gardening is a great hobby for the springtime that benefits your physical, mental, and emotional health: all important in the aging process. Our caregivers can help with gardening tasks that might prove difficult or painful for your loved one. Our number one goal is to keep your loved one safe while helping to maintain independence so they can enjoy things they love.