The Benefits Of Gardening For The Elderly

The Benefits of Gardening for the Elderly

Gardening is a popular activity across the UK and the across the globe. It can be beneficial to people’s health, for the elderly in particular, as it can strengthen muscles and joints, improve relaxation and enhance well being, to name a few. In fact,there are many benefits that older people can get from activities such as re-potting plants, planting vegetables and populating greenhouses.

As dementia care specialists Helping Hands state, gardening “enables someone to get some air and sunshine while still staying in a place that is comfortable and familiar to them.” This is especially useful for older people who have started to experience problems with their memory, as gardening can help your mid stay positive which can counteract the stresses caused through memory loss.

The sheer joy of gardening can itself be a much needed addition to the lives of older people.More specifically, there are several benefits that they can get from the activity. Let’s take a closer look at all of the benefits that gardening can provide for elderly people.

Encouragement of physical movement

As the body ages,it becomes more important than ever to make sure that physical movement is a part of life. Gardening helps to encourage physical activity as it includes bending, stretching and lifting to name just a few. This makes it a good way of elderly people obtaining the aerobic and strength building exercise that they need. It also helps improve balance, which is vital when wanting to prevent falls from occurring in the home.

However, it’s important that older people do not overdo exercise. It’s  therefore a good idea for elderly to consult their doctor before undertaking strenuous physical activity.

Exposure to a natural source of vitamin D

Vitamin D is important in preserving good health, especially when it comes to bone condition. Gardening outside in the sun exposes elderly people to a natural source of vitamin D. While this is good news, it’s also important to ensure that protective measures are taken to avoid the dangers of exposure to sunlight and problems with dehydration; sunscreen should always be used, hats should be worn and water should be drunk on a regular basis.

Reduction of stress

Gardening is known to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. This has a lotto do with the fact that the body is exposed to sun and exercise when someone is gardening. It’s also been said that there is bacteria in the soil which has anti depressant qualities. Furthermore, the act of leaving the house and stepping outside alone will greatly improve someone’s mental health, as they experience a different environment altogether. These positive aspects of gardening make it ideal as a way of improving the mood of older people.

Improved social interaction

It’s been proven by research that people who are socially interactive are likely to remain healthier and live longer than people who are isolated. This is why elderly people should look for opportunities to get involved with community gardening projects where they can interact with other people, If unable to garden on their own, gardening is a great activity for someone to do with their carer,allowing people with conditions such as arthritis to get involved in a fun activity with a friend.

Not only this, but with the fresh fruit and veg that is produced, elderly people can invite their family and friends over for BBQs and garden parties, accompanied by food grown and made by the host.

Sharpening of the mind

Memory issues,including the development of dementia, are a major concern for elderly people.This is why it’s important for people to keep their minds sharp as they get older.Getting involved with gardening can help make this happen, as decorating the garden with sensory accessories, using objects and planting flowers and veg of different textures and colours and installing outdoor seating for them to ponder.

As well as this,dementia-friendly gardens create the perfect opportunity to make outdoor connections for your loved one. If there are any memories that took place in an environment other than their home, try and bring in any scents or sights that will bring them happiness.

It’s easy to see that there are many benefits that the elderly can get from gardening. However,gardening can also present dangers if it’s not done carefully. Safety should always be a high priority.

Safety tips for older people who love gardening

There are several tips that older people should find useful to help them protect their safety when they are gardening.

  • Protection from the sun is important. This is why sunscreen and a hat should be worn.
  • Gloves should be worn to protect the skin.
  • Water should be drunk regularly in order to maintain hydration levels.
  • Regular breaks should be taken in order not to overstretch the body.
  • Insect repellent should be used in order to avoid the issue of bites.
  • Raised flower beds can help to avoid issues caused by continual stooping.
  • Shaded areas should be incorporated into the garden where possible, to provide relief from sunlight.
  • Non-slip materials should be used to create garden paths.

For anyone who enjoys gardening, but is not able to do so independently, there is the option of a caregiver being present. This is always the safest choice if there is any doubt about whether a person can remain safe gardening on their own.

In summary

Gardening is an activity that can provide many benefits for elderly people. It can help to provide essential physical activity and expose people to vitamin D which helps to promote healthy bones. Older people who become involved in community gardening projects are able to benefit from the social aspect of the activity.It’s important that these positive aspects of gardening are optimised by taking precautionary measures in order to protect elderly people from potential issues while they are gardening.

This is a guest blog post written by Ella Hendrix. Ella Hendrix is a versatile freelance writer currently covering articles on house renovations, home ware trends and gardening for beginners.

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