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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.