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Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening in Your Senior Years

Smiling senior woman holding leaf rake.
Gardening is doable during your golden years and can also be highly therapeutic;. Photo: Kzenon, depositphotos

Gardening in your senior years: think of the therapeutic benefits!

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sinking your fingers into the rich soil. The warmth of the sun shining down on your back. And the sight of vibrant blossoms and mouth-watering vegetables that you’ve cultivated blooming to life.

No, the joys of gardening never get old, even when our bodies do. Fortunately, just because you’re entering your senior years doesn’t mean you have to give up on your passion. In fact, gardening is doable during your golden years and can also be highly therapeutic.

The Fountain of Youth?

We all know that our bodies change with age. Our joints stiffen. We lose muscle mass. Our energy declines, and we become more susceptible to illness. All of this strongly associates with an elevated risk of anxiety and depression as we age.

However, seniors who maintain a garden enjoy a wealth of physical and mental health benefits. Ones that can slow, prevent, or even reverse many of the natural effects of aging. For example, remaining physically active, spending time outside, and engaging in cognitively challenging activities are all associated with increased energy and better overall health in seniors.

And, of course, you get all of this, and more, when you cultivate a garden.

Improved Nutrition

Senior man showing home-grown cucumbers.
There’s nothing quite like eating food you’ve grown yourself. Photo: Wavebreakmedia, depositphotos

Another benefit of gardening in your golden years is the opportunity to infuse your diet with an array of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables straight from your own soil. There’s nothing quite like eating food you’ve grown yourself. Plus, the quality of the produce is often far higher than that which shipped from distant locales. For seniors on a budget, there are also often a substantial cost savings when you grow your own produce.

Boost Your Mood and Relieve Your Stress

Let’s face it: life can get pretty stressful at times. However, research has shown that the physical and mental activity involved with maintaining a garden not only reduces stress but can also improve sleep quality and enhance your mood.

The psychological benefits of gardening can also be attributed to the socialization gardening often provides. Whether you’re tending your garden with friends or sharing your yields with your neighbors, cultivating a garden is an ideal way to connect with others . Ultimately, it helps to combat the loneliness that is too often part and parcel of growing older.

A Physical and Cognitive Challenge

Senior woman in vegetable garden with basket of vegetables.
There’s no denying it: gardening makes you feel stronger and healthier. Photo: Hannamariah, depositphotos

Another therapeutic benefit of gardening is that it can present seniors with a host of physical and mental challenges that seniors might otherwise never undertake. For instance, if you are cultivating a garden to lend a bit of privacy to your property, then not only are you going to have to undertake some pretty arduous manual labor, but you’re also going to need to perform a lot of heavy-duty planning.

Your mind will get a workout as you strategize your design, even as your body executes the digging, hauling, lifting, and planting needed to bring that plan to fruition. Though the work itself may not be easy, the payoff isn’t just a beautiful landscape but also a sharper mind and stronger body. After all, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

The Takeaway

Young people aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the pleasures of gardening. Indeed, for seniors, cultivating a garden is often more than a simple joy. Rather, gardening can be highly therapeutic. It may very well contribute to physical health, mental wellbeing, and length of life. Gardening has been shown to increase energy, decrease loneliness, boost mood, and reduce the risk of illness, frailty, and cognitive decline. What that means, ultimately, is that maintaining a garden may not just lengthen your life, but it will also make your life healthier, happier, and more fulfilling.

7 comments on “Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening in Your Senior Years

  1. 63. I can barely move or bend – horrible back pain. Joy of gardeing is gone. This article is a whitewasd for those who simply have an ache or two. Not the reality for those with real pain, lack of mobility. Looking at the garden I used to love, is just depressing.

  2. Manuel Etiete

    I am at late 50’s, gardening makes me so happy

  3. Jt Michaels

    As an elder with a lower back injury, many of my pre-injury movements are now curtailed by pain. Gardening is challenge, indeed – but certainly a worthwhile endeavor! I’ve found much can be accomplished in a veggie garden, including digging rows or potato trenches, while on my knees. Sometimes crawling from bed to bed is useful.

  4. Gardening has improved my quality of life greatly being only 44 and having chronic-life-threatening disease. I would not have made it through the last 5 years without it.

  5. I lady on our allotment is in her 80’s and the combination of her being a vegetarian for life, and allotment keeper and an outdoor active sort of person means that she looks and acts physically younger than some people 20 years her junior.

  6. Derek Bull

    I retired this year and have had an allotment for two years. even though people still want me to sort out their problems I can now say no more often! My allotment is the place I go to grow amazing stuff and keep my hand in inventing solutions to everything growing requires. yes I run out of steam easier but there’s no need to do everything RIGHT NOW, there’s always a cup of tea to enjoy and ponder what’s next. getting a bit stiff is a sign that you’ve been working your body and you deserve a beer!

  7. Agree with it all but the physical tasks can become quite challenging as you joints and bones become more painful.

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