There are benefits of gardening for seniors that could make an elderly person start tending their garden after a long time.
Although it only varies on where they reside, or where they live, it can also be an activity in the nursing home or facilities that provide palliative care that can keep the seniors productive throughout the day.
It can be an opportunity for seniors to be busy, and active as well.
Gardening has become one of the best hobbies to do with all ages. But with the growing population of elderly people, individuals see this as an option to make their time useful.
They also see this as an opportunity for a better life span, and productiveness especially when they are at home.
But What is Gardening?
Gardening is an activity in which people grow, cultivate, and take care of plants (flowers and vegetables) for non-commercial use.
Some people consider gardening as an interaction with nature, especially if they live in a city, or in a place where there is a lack of nature. Like plants, it helps people nurture a living thing, as a reflection of life.
It is as easy as having a small piece of space, or land. Or plant pots if you will, and rich soil that is available either in your backyard or at the local market.
Sometimes, you can buy a plant yourself with ready-made soil, a pot, and a small plant grown already. Although, some people choose to buy seeds to build their garden from scratch.
There are a lot of choices to make your garden personalized, and how it appeals to you. If you’re looking for a better landscape of your piece of land, you can opt for leaves and small trees.
Others do flowers, as an addition to color, and appreciation. But for some, practically comes in, therefore they plant their own fruits and vegetables.
Gardening as A Growing Trend
At the beginning of the pandemic and most people at home, there is a growing trend of gardening among sheltered people in 2020.
It also helped the local markets to thrive with gardening tools and equipment needed. As well as people who are not able to go out of their homes because of the virus.
The healthcare community advocates that elderly people should start gardening as nonpharmacological management for pain, and psychological means.
Which will be talked about later on in this article. This means that asides from taking pain relievers like NSAIDs, and paracetamol, gardening is one of the good ways to relieve pain.
But did you know, that there is something that’s called “therapeutic gardening?. Horticultural therapy (HT) is a type of therapy used for dementia patients.
It is done by integrating skills that have been learned pre-dementia, and exposing the patients to a certain skill, or learning to reconnect with the memory or skill that was lost.
HT and exposure to gardens have been shown to have positive benefits for the elderly. Indoor gardening is effective for improving sleep, and cognition in dementia patients.
It is also proven to improve memory, decision-making, and the ability to cope with the changes in their environment.
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Help Is A Vital Component of Gardening
Building a garden is not that easy if it’s done alone. The elderly can do this with other elderly people if it’s a community garden from their neighborhood, or facilities.
Or if they are together at home. But, it can also be a time to bond with family members, especially children to learn more about growing plants.
Family members can help with tasks that an elderly is not able to do out of fatigue, or how strenuous it might be. Like digging, hoeing, and grabbing the wheelbarrow to move plants to another location.
It is a good exercise for everybody, to keep themselves out of the screens, or offload their stress with planting.
Benefits of Gardening for Seniors
A study in 2017, has compiled years of articles that support gardening as a part of the intervention in the healthcare community.
They found out that there is a significant positive impact on health. Which affects the overall quality of life of a senior, no matter what method of gardening was done.
It Is A Form of Physical Activity and Exercise
Or better yet, it is a form of aerobic exercise that is recommended for elderly people who are not able to walk outside of their homes, or any physical activity more than what is expected of their condition.
Hoeing, digging, and even weeding are forms of exercise that can put up a sweat, and can keep you active while being with nature.
A study in 2016 has revealed that the gardening could be defined as low-to-moderate level physical work.
The higher level work were categorized as “moderate-level physical work,” needing approximately 4.5 METs, on the other hand “lower-level physical work” needs less than 3.0 METs.
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Reduces Stress, and Helps with Anxiety and Depression
As part of the overall study about gardening as a beneficial activity for overall quality of life, gardening can reduce stress.
By using horticultural therapy in elderly people with dementia, it is believed to help with the anxiety of not knowing what to do in a day and helps them cope with it better on their condition.
On the other hand, being around nature is a natural resource for reducing stress. Whether you’re stressed at work, or been facing problems every day.
Studies show that person who spend their time ploughing plants have less tension in their lives. Plants calms human beings and give a positive look to the people to channel their tension into nurturing.
Moreover, it is advocated by the American Psychological Association from the prevalence of eco anxiety.
It the findings of various researchers: For many, seeing the gradual effects of climate change is increasing daily tension levels and creating a burdensome sense of guilt. Therefore gardening is one of the ways to relieve such problems.
Provides Stimulation and Opportunity To Be Social
If gardening has become a part of the daily routine, it can help elderly people be aware of their surroundings.
Learning more about gardening, how plants work, or anything that has to do with talking about plants can be a good way to keep their minds stimulated with their interests. A newfound interest, can keep them motivated to do it, and happy as well.
It can also be a good thing to share with family members or friends who are willing to listen. It can also be a way for them to find new friends who are also interested in gardening.
To be social, and talking about the newfound interest gives them a sense of belonging. Know more about how to increase a senior’s energy here.
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Helps With Pain
As a growing trend for nonpharmacological management. Individuals with chronic pain can benefit from gardening.
Via horticultural experiences, either passive or active, it can provide chronic patients an holistic approach in their long-term care, stand to benefit tremendously from it. There are still other factors that would benefit them, but gardening is one of them.
Further explanation on why chronic pain sufferers benefit from gardening is from a study in 2016 by Horticultural Science.
It may suggest a link to past research which found plants to be beneficial as a form of distraction treatment, which can significantly lessen pain, the pain medication needed, and fatigue in individuals.
Factors To Consider Before Gardening
- Have your gardening tools ready, whatever you might need, that will keep your work easier than gardening without any. It is also a way to prevent injuries with tools to use, instead of using kitchenware that can potentially harm you. You can use a garden hose, see if there is it’s best for you.
- You can use a kneeler with handles to assist you in your gardening. This is absolutely helpful if you have painful joints due to arthritis. It can help you kneel down on the land, and keep on planting until you are done. Know more what’s the best garden kneelers with handlers here.
- Always have a helping hand with you, especially if you are an elderly person. A family member, someone you’re close with, or a friend that’s also into gardening. They can help you with tasks that might seem to be difficult for you. A helping hand can’t hurt, and it can also give you time to interact with someone on a personal level
- Consider a protective lotion like sunscreen, or moisturizer. Especially if you’re gardening in the middle of the day. So you can protect yourself with a long amount of exposure to the sun and get sunburned. Also, a moisturizer to help soften your skin if it’s dry. Dry skin is susceptible to bruises, wounds, and bumps unnoticeable.
- Wear something light, especially on a hot day. The exertion of energy can cause an increase in heat due to the amount of work you’re doing. Prevent heat exhaustion by having a water bottle beside you, when you feel thirsty.