The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said that “Nature itself is the best physician.” While science has advanced significantly since the renowned father of medicine made that proclamation, the sentiment still rings true. Getting out in nature provides several health benefits for your mind and body that combine powerfully with modern medicine. These advantages are especially important for seniors, who of all age groups tend to be homebound, isolated, and with a number of health conditions that time outside can assuage.
Of course, seniors can also struggle to access nature in the first place, whether from mobility issues or a lack of green spaces nearby. But when it comes to harnessing the restorative power of the outdoors, you don’t have to set off on a two-week backpacking trip to absorb the benefits. In fact, there’s often plenty of nature right in your backyard–and if there isn’t, you can easily incorporate it!
What Gardening Can Offer To Older Adults
Gardening offers many tangible benefits to seniors, no matter their level of activity or needs. It can provide relief for many health conditions, boost mood, reduce stress, and more. We’ve explored the many benefits of keeping houseplants inside, and gardening can offer the same perks–plus a few extra.
Ease Joint Pain
Gardening is an excellent option for treating sore joints, especially those resulting from arthritis. Even if you don’t have arthritis, gardening can improve hand dexterity and strength. However, be careful! Too much gardening can lead to stress injuries such as tendonitis born from repeating the same motion over and over. Doing some hand warm-ups, positioning your body in a way that doesn’t strain your tendons or joints, and taking lots of breaks is a great way to help your joints reap the benefits of gardening.
Mental Health Benefits
Ripping weeds out of your garden is a great way to remove metaphorical weeds from your mind. Studies have shown that gardening can dramatically reduce the presence of cortisol, a stress hormone, in your body. It also improves overall mood and can ease the symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Protection Against Dementia
Working in the garden is great for your mood, but its impact on the brain goes even deeper. A 16-year study of 3,000 seniors showed that daily gardening was the single most significant factor for reducing the risk of dementia. People who gardened every day were between 36 and 47 percent less likely to experience dementia.
Regular Moderate Exercise
Because gardening requires such a wide variety of physical actions, it’s a great way to get your allotted weekly exercise in a low-impact and attainable way. Gardening has even been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack by 30 percent for seniors. Plus, you can absorb the benefits of Vitamin D from the sunlight–but be sure to practice proper sun safety.
Plenty of Fresh Produce
Eating healthy is especially important for seniors, who often suffer from nutritional deficiencies that reduce their quality of life. With a supply of fresh-off-the-plant fruits and vegetables in your backyard, eating well has never been easier. Having lots of produce on hand can also be a great inspiration to try new recipes, which can do wonders for seniors with a reduced sense of taste.
Start an Outdoor Garden
If you don’t already have a garden, a few supplies and a little time is all it takes to get started. To begin with, consider the climate you live in to determine what plants will thrive in your yard. You can talk to an expert at your local gardening store about what might work well based on your yard’s soil composition, sun exposure, and water. Investing in tools to help reduce the physical impact of gardening is another good option for seniors.
Raised garden beds can also be smart for seniors who don’t want to deal with kneeling or bending. A raised bed is kinder on sore backs and knees and can even be placed on a patio or other paved surface if you’re short on yard space. Seniors with no yards at all need not despair; a container garden can provide the same benefits and enjoyment as a garden with its roots in the earth. With just a little outdoor space on a patio or balcony and a few pots of dirt, you can grow a beautiful floral display or even a miniature vegetable garden.
Get A Helping Hand With Your Garden
Gardening can be intimidating for those without prior experience. Starting a garden from scratch takes a fair amount of work and even a little manual labor. If you think you might need a little help creating or maintaining a garden, an in-home caregiver can pitch in. An extra pair of hands to take care of the heavier lifting allows you to focus on the most therapeutic parts of gardening without worrying about a stress injury or twinge in your back. A caregiver can also help you cook up all the delicious vegetables from your garden in nutritious recipes and even take care of the dishes afterward. Caregivers help you continue to enjoy the best of life while easing the burden of tasks or chores that are harder to accomplish. Start reaping the benefits of a garden (and caretaker) today!
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.