There are many reasons why seniors should take up gardening as a hobby this spring. Growing a few vegetables or herbs, for example, lets seniors combine something they love with physical activity.
By keeping the soil in their garden or containers healthy, seniors can ensure any produce they harvest and eat will be a nutritious addition to their diet. They can also extend the harvest season through the use of succession planting and careful planning. Growing their own ingredients can help interest seniors in eating healthier meals on a regular basis and potentially inspire them to take up cooking or related hobbies.
The benefits that seniors can gain by gardening aren't limited to exercise and nutrition, however. Here are just a few of the other ways seniors can enhance their lives through getting their hands dirty and cultivating their green thumb.
Clipping away spent blossoms, pulling weeds and attaching vines to trellises are just a few of the actions gardeners may need to take as they care for their plants. These detailed movements may present a challenge for seniors struggling with arthritis pain or recovering from a stroke, but they’re also part of an enjoyable activity, which can motivate seniors to push past stiffness and keep improving their range of motion.
Ferns and tropical plants that require a frequent misting are a good choice for individuals aiming to give their fingers exercise through their favorite hobby. The careful pruning and tying involved in training bonsai trees can also help seniors maintain their hands’ nimbleness.
Seniors who have lost a loved one or pet may find a quiet garden area helps them during the grieving process. Memorial gardens don't have to require a lot of space; a few simple pots and a plaque may be all a senior wishes to tend. Small details such as a favorite flower, small figurine or wind chime can be added to make the setting more personal.
Gardening can lower stress in many ways. Simply being outside in the fresh air and sunlight can improve mood and ease tension. Participating in a physical activity and engaging in a preferred hobby are both scientifically proven to improve blood pressure.
Seniors can also attract birds and butterflies to their garden by including a water source, nectar-rich flowers or a bird feeder. These small visitors can offer hours of relaxation for the bird-watchers among our Ellisville residents.
The combination of fresh air, sun exposure and exercise that being outdoors offers can help seniors achieve a healthy sleep cycle. But even seniors who struggle with mobility and can't manage outdoor plants can improve their sleep through gardening. Many indoor houseplants are known to remove toxins from the air, which can make it easier to breathe and make sleep more restful.
Whether it's to join a group of like-minded friends in a gardening club or to give a fresh bouquet or edible treat to a neighbor, gardening gives seniors unique ways to engage and improve the community around them.
By enhancing their patio or windowsill with greenery or blossoms, they can offer cheer to visitors and passersby alike and potentially inspire others to give gardening a try themselves.
Bethesda Foundaion is not associated with the Bethesda Health Group of St. Louis, MO.