Cultivating a garden, even a very modest one, can have some surprising health benefits for seniors. The daily act of tending to plants, pulling weeds, and digging in soil is both good for the body and the mind. The Lehigh Valley senior care experts at Home Care Assistance have put together the following list of impressive advantages your senior family member can gain from this enjoyable activity.
1. Stress Relief and Mood Balance
Gardening is very peaceful and cathartic. It presents an array of simple challenges seniors can work diligently to overcome. As a result, seniors have a greater sense of control while working in a garden, which is important at this stage of life. Physical changes and declining cognition can make aging adults feel powerless. The ability to produce a hearty selection of flowers, fruits, or vegetables, however, will boost self-confidence and restore a sense of control. As a result, people who garden tend to have far lower levels of stress and anxiety.
2. Fine Motor Coordination
Different activities seniors perform in the garden can significantly improve hand strength, dexterity, and fine motor skills. This makes gardening especially beneficial for those living with Parkinson’s disease. Activities that encourage seniors to continue moving in spite of movement challenges can help them retain more of their mobility.
3. Reconnecting with Early Memories
For seniors with Alzheimer’s, gardening may be the perfect activity for reconnecting with early memories. Working in the garden can stimulate positive memories of productive times in the past. Alzheimer’s caregivers might also notice that moments of recollection can keep outbursts to a minimum and establish a sense of calm. Even when seniors are no longer able to actively assist in the garden, walking through these areas or sitting nearby can have a very therapeutic effect.
4. Regular Exercise
Gardening is actually a lot more labor-intensive than many people expect. It is an excellent form of non-impact exercise for seniors. Best of all, they can get plenty of Vitamin D from the sun with very modest amounts of exposure.
5. Improved Immune System Functionality
Not only are seniors getting more Vitamin D while working in the garden, but there is actually a very beneficial strain of bacteria that they are frequently exposed to while pulling through the dirt. Mycobacterium vaccae is a friendly bacteria people come in contact with when smelling fresh produce and moving their fingers through garden soil. This organism helps alleviate depression and minimize the symptoms of problems like psoriasis, eczema, allergies and asthma as well as other issues that are commonly associated with a depressed immune system.
If your senior loved one could use a helping hand in the garden or with other daily activities, turn to Home Care Assistance. Although we specialize in live-in care, we also offer flexible hourly care in the Lehigh Valley, and can assist with errands, household chores, and transportation. Call a friendly Care Manager at 484-350-3874 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation today.