Maintaining a garden–whether it’s a few window boxes full of flowers or a plot of delicious vegetables–can have a surprisingly wide range of health benefits for seniors. Fairfield Home Care Assistance has rounded up the top five.
1. Physical Fitness
Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, keeps the joints limber, and helps keep muscles strong. For seniors who shy away from the gym or have limited mobility, gardening is a great way to stay physically fit. Gardening for just 30 minutes a day has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and to prolong life by up to 30%.
2. Elevated Mood
Depression isn’t uncommon in the elderly, but it isn’t a normal part of aging. Gardening has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression in clinically depressed individuals. It elevates the mood, improves self-esteem, and produces a feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction.
3. Vitamin D Absorption
Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system, healthy bones, and a healthy cardiovascular system. Vitamin D is created when the sun shines on exposed skin. Many seniors stay indoors, and therefore never have any opportunities to create vitamin D. Gardening for just 10 minutes a day can produce sufficient vitamin D to dramatically improve health.
4. Improved Hand Dexterity and Strength
Many seniors suffer from a reduced ability to use their hands due to loss of flexibility and strength. Gardening is an activity that encourages seniors to put their hands through a complete workout, limbering up the joints, improving range of motion, and strengthening muscles. Gardening is so good for the hands that some researchers have been exploring the use of gardening as a rehabilitative therapy for stroke victims.
5. Stress Relief
Chronic stress and anxiety is very bad for both physical and mental health. A study found that gardening was an effective reliever of stress. In the study, participants were subjected to a stressful event and then either assigned to work in their gardens or to read indoors. The active gardeners recovered rapidly from the stress (as measured by cortisol levels) and experienced improved mood relative to the readers.
For more information on senior health and wellness, reach out to Home Care Assistance. As a leading provider of hourly and live-in care, as well as specialized dementia and Alzheimer’s care in Fairfield, we make senior safety and wellbeing our top priority. Call a friendly Care Manager at 203-955-1915 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation today.