It is vital that seniors remain active to ensure they are healthy both physically and mentally. One of the best ways to do this is to find a fulfilling hobby.
No one wants to spend their retirement sick and being bored. However, as people age, several ailments can occur, such as cardiovascular conditions, arthritis and osteoporosis.
These health conditions can make it difficult to stay active and exercise. Senior citizens should find a hobby that keeps them stimulated and fit without placing too much strain on their bodies. Gardening is a great hobby for older adults that are trying to get in shape and stimulate themselves mentally.
The Mental Health Benefits that Gardening Offers Senior Citizens
Maintaining a garden requires dedication and physical activity. Gardening is a great hobby for those who are looking for a hobby that keeps them actively engaged both physically and mentally.
Gardening can help senior citizens create a work of art that they can be proud of. It is similar to the way you feel when you mow the lawn and it looks so beautiful.
Gardening helps to improve their mood and cognitive functions. In fact, Psychology Today reports that gardening and nurturing plants can help to increase self-esteem, which is vital to your loved one’s satisfaction.
Connecting with nature offers many different benefits. Gardening allows seniors to connect with nature and reap the benefits.
Whether your loved one lives out in the country with acreage, in the suburbs with a modest yard or in the city where the only option is to have a container garden, the act of gardening helps you connect with your loved one and improve their self-esteem.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science published a study by Stanford University that stated that an individual who spends at least 90 minutes outdoors can improve their overall mental well-being and even reduce the risk of depression.
Furthermore, if the senior suffers from depression or anxiety, gardening can help reduce their symptoms and improve their outlook on life.
When a senior gardens, endorphins are released into the body and brain. These chemicals promote relaxation and combat stress. Gardening also gives your loved one a sense of purpose and responsibility.
Gardening requires rhythmic work; however, it is not stressful and does not require complex problem-solving skills or focus. Your loved one just needs to listen to their heart and design how they think it should be designed.
What Physical Advantages Does Gardening Offer?
The health benefits of gardening include several physical benefits and this is why a good Senior Care Center will often offer those living there the chance to garden in their grounds.
Gardening is low impact aerobics that allows senior citizens to get the exercise that they need for improved heart health and muscle strength.
In fact, the CDC recommends gardening as one of the strength training exercises that is safe and effective for individuals over the age of 65. Seniors should participate in muscle and strength training activities at least twice a week in addition to aerobic exercises like cycling or walking.
Both of these exercises work together to promote health and prevent several age-related health issues, including cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular issues and stroke.
Planting a garden and maintaining it requires regular fertilizing, watering, weeding and pruning. There will be times when the senior will need to dig a hole, hoe to remove weeds and lift and move plants.
Each of these activities actively engages most of the muscle groups in the body. When a senior gardens, they will need to walk around, twist and bend, which can provide the aerobic activity needed to promote health.
Regularly caring for a garden helps them connect with nature and reduce their stress levels. It can also help improve their self-esteem and outlook on life because the plants need regular care.
Gardening Safety Tips for Senior Citizens
Gardening is a low-impact activity; however, it is vital that a senior citizen follows safety precautions when gardening to prevent an injury. First, it is essential that they complete some warm-ups and stretching before they begin working in the garden.
This will prevent muscle strain and ligament injury from occurring. Gardening often involves repetitive motions that can cause injuries if stretching isn’t done beforehand.
The CDC says that if a senior citizen has been inactive, they should begin by doing short bursts of physical activity and slowly increase the time that they spend doing physical activity or increasing the intensity of their physical activities.
An elderly adult may need to modify how they work in their garden. For example, if they suffer from arthritis, they may need to use tools to help them easily grasp objects, according to the CDC.
A cushion for kneeling or a small stool prevents them from crouching or kneeling down on their knees. These tools will reduce the strain on their joints.
Another options, according to the DIY Network, is to use vertical planters and raised garden beds. These options reduce the need to squat or bend down, which can be difficult on an elderly person’s body.
In addition to the physical limitations of aging and working in the garden, senior citizens should dress appropriately when working outdoors. Applying sunscreen and wearing a wide-brimmed hat helps to prevent sun damage.
Remember sunscreen and a hat should be worn on cloudy days as well as sunny days. Light clothing can reduce the risk of a heat stroke.
Bug spray and mosquito netting help to prevent insect and mosquito bits as they can lead to blood borne illnesses like the West Nile Virus and the Zika Virus. Finally, elderly gardeners should drink water before, during and after working in the garden to prevent dehydration.
If the elderly gardener has decreased mobility and wants to spend time in the garden, raised flower bed may be the answer. This type of raised bed allows them to enjoy working outdoors without the stress and strain regular gardening would place on their bodies.
Spring and summer are the perfect time to start gardening. during this time, herbs, flowers and vegetables should be planted so they can be enjoyed into late fall.
When choosing plants, you want to look for ones that will thrive in the garden. Check out the National Gardening Association’s map to help you determine the best plants for your climate.
Perennials are plants that return annually without needing to be replanted. Examples of perennials include tulips and irises.
In addition to perennial plants, including annuals such as marigolds and begonias will brighten up the garden. Vegetables can be planted for healthy and delicious summer meals that are easy on the pocketbook.
No matter whether your elderly loved one plans to plant flowers or vegetables, you want to ensure they can enjoy a safe and rewarding hobby. Making sure that they have the right information and tools will keep them happy and safe while working in the garden.
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