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Gardening For Seniors: A Lifelong Hobby That Reaps Many Health Rewards

Written by Maria Cannon, FGS Member

Gardening is a hobby that works for people of all ages and skill levels, and it is a great activity for seniors to do. There are numerous physical and mental health benefits that come from gardening and these can be especially helpful to older adults. Whether gardening is new to a senior or a lifelong passion, there are plenty of ways to keep this activity accessible to older adults as they age.

Easy adaptations keep gardening accessible for seniors

Gardening Know How explains that there are ways to adapt gardening to ensure that it is accessible to seniors. Raised gardening beds are one key way to make this activity easier on seniors so they don’t have to worry about mobility issues and they can easily access plants from a variety of angles. Even with a raised bed, it can be helpful to have a stool, bench, or chair for a senior to sit on as they garden, as oftentimes their stamina and mobility will be restricted.

Other types of gardening that may be well-suited to seniors include container gardening and Agrability suggests vertical gardening as well. This type of gardening utilizes a trellis or other vertical background to help plans go up plants rather than out. These types of gardens can be much easier for seniors to reach and require less bending or kneeling.

Consider modifications that make gardening easier for older adults

There are some gardening tools created especially for seniors that can make the process easier, especially for those who are dealing with arthritis or other challenges. Tools with brightly-colored handles are great as they are easier for seniors to see and tools with foam grips and long or curved handles can be easier than others for seniors to use as well.

Whether you are putting together a home garden for a senior or helping them to utilize a community urban garden, make sure that there are clear pathways that are safe for those with unsteady footing, canes, walkers, or even wheelchairs to use. In addition, it can also be helpful for seniors to focus on doing their gardening early in the mornings when they are the freshest and when the sun and heat are manageable.

A senior’s mental and physical health greatly benefit from gardening

Gardening can be much more than a way to pass the time when you are a senior. Psych Central details that this popular senior activity can significantly improve the perceived quality of life for older adults and it has a positive influence on one’s physical well being.

The Better Health Channel adds that gardening can improve strength and endurance in seniors and it can also help to prevent osteoporosis and other health issues. Not only does gardening benefit a senior’s physical health, but it has significant mental health benefits as well.

A moderate amount of time gardening produces measurable benefits

Weekend Gardener indicates that just 2.5 hours a week gardening can produce significant improvements in a senior’s physical and mental health. This is an activity that can improve self-esteem and sleep quality, reduce anxiety and depression, and it can even greatly benefit those seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It stimulates the brain and can be a great social outlet for seniors as well.

As adults age, they sometimes start to feel isolated and struggle with mobility and mental health issues. Gardening is a great hobby that can be easily modified to accommodate a senior’s specific needs and it provides significant benefits to one’s physical health. It can also help to keep a senior’s brain sharp and reduce stress, depression, and anxiety so that an older adult can continue to stay active, engaged, and energized by life.

Note: Please always consult your doctors and medical professionals to see if it’s safe for you to garden in various capacities.