The Joy of Gardening

man walking with child

The Joy of Gardening

Monday, June 10, 2024

There is something very special about gardening. Getting out in the fresh air, with your hands in the soil, and seeing the fruits of your labor as your garden grows can be therapeutic at any age. For older people, however, gardening is especially beneficial. In senior living communities, gardens provide a place to socialize, get some exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and reap the benefits in terms of physical and mental health. Spending time in the garden is good for blood pressure, alleviates stress, and much more. Let’s take a look at some of the ways gardening can make a big difference in the lives of seniors. 

Benefits of Gardening for Older Adults

  • Gardening can be a good way to alleviate stress and promote relaxation. Did you know that being out in the sun during the day can help a person sleep better at night? Exposure to sunlight can help regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, which results in better sleep quality at night. What’s more, actively spending time in nature in a practical, proactive way can calm the mind and reduce feelings of anxiety. 
  • Working in a garden improves cognitive function. Here is something worth noting: exposure to gardens and simple gardening tasks have been shown to alleviate the symptoms of early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory impairment. When older adults dealing with memory impairment participate in gardening activities, they reap the benefits, experiencing improved sleep cycles, reduced agitation, and decreased isolation. Further, because gardening requires planning, problem solving, and attention to detail, it helps keep the mind sharp by stimulating the brain. 
  • The light exercise of gardening benefits the body. Digging, planting, weeding, and watering all provide light exercise, which can improve a person’s physical fitness. For older people, these gentle forms of exercise promote mobility, strength, and flexibility, as well as lowering high blood pressure. 
  • Cultivating a garden helps people maintain sensory awareness and motor skills. Gardening involves the use of the hands, and requires a fair amount of dexterity, which helps maintain and even improve fine motor skills. Additionally, the senses are awakened through gardening, which uses many of the senses, and this helps promote sensory awareness. This can counteract declines in vision, hearing, smell, touch, taste, and balance that come with age. There is also evidence that sensory stimulation helps improve symptoms of dementia, to include agitation and sleep disturbances. 
  • The garden is a pleasant place to interact with others. For many older people, loneliness and isolation can result in anxiety and depression. Working together in a group, doing something like gardening, can help people build bonds and remain socially active. Especially in senior living communities, gardens become social hubs, fostering interaction between residents as they navigate challenges and celebrate gardening successes, as well as working in their gardens together. This kind of social interaction helps improve an older person’s emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being. 
  • Being outdoors, spending time in nature, can boost the immune system. Gardening can be therapeutic for many older adults, and being outside and active can not only relieve stress but also improve immunity. 

Tips for Seniors Wishing to Garden

You do not have to have a large vegetable garden or prize-winning roses to reap the benefits of gardening. Even a small green space in which to get your hands dirty and grow something green can be extremely worthwhile. Before getting started, talk to your doctor if you plan to do more than just light gardening. No matter what level of gardening you intend to do, do some gentle stretching before you head outside, focusing particularly on stretching and preparing the hands for activity. If you are susceptible to seasonal allergies, make sure to take your allergy medication before gardening, and always apply sunscreen and wear a wide brimmed hat. Remember to carry a water bottle with you, so that you can stay hydrated, and when you are planning your garden, choose your tools carefully. Lightweight gardening tools are likely to be easier for you to use than heavier tools. Consider these activities when you are making your gardening plan: 

  • Digging in the earth: This allows you to interact with nature directly, as you get dirty and feel the soil in your fingers. It is a satisfying, grounding experience for many people. 
  • Planting: This is not just a physical activity, but also an exercise in hope. Each seed carries a promise of new life and growth, making this symbolically rewarding, as well. 
  • Watering: Having daily rituals is important in providing consistency, and many older people thrive with a routine. Nurturing your plants, engaging in a consistent behavior, and watching the plants grow is rewarding and connects you to nature in a meaningful way. 
  • Harvesting: Growing food or flowers is one of the best parts of gardening. Whether you are creating beautiful bouquets or enjoying fresh produce, there is something extremely gratifying about tangible rewards from the work of your hands. 
  • Crafts and Hobbies: Planting a garden does not have to result in vegetables or bouquets to inspire some additional creativity. There are many crafts and hobbies that involve plants, like wreaths and pressed flowers, and these things can also be rewarding to produce. 

For Seniors Without Gardening Space

Even if you do not have access to a plot of land in which you can grow a garden, you can reap some of the benefits of gardening. A container garden on your patio can result in beautiful flowers or even delicious vegetables or fruit. An herb garden on your kitchen windowsill can enhance your meals and enrich your life. Even taking the time to walk outside, enjoying the wonders of the natural world, can help you feel more grounded and peaceful. Find ways to connect with nature, and you are sure to find it rewarding. 

A Great Place For an Active Retirement

Are you a senior who wants to continuously grow and evolve by staying physically and intellectually active and participating in hobbies like gardening? When you’re choosing a place to spend your retirement, look for somewhere that fosters this passion for knowledge, with plenty of opportunities to learn, grow, connect with your peers and engage in your favorite hobbies. At Parkwood Heights, want our residents to live life to the fullest, as they enjoy all the amenities that make Parkwood a great place to live their best lives. A lovely community in which to spend your retirement, Parkwood Heights is located just minutes from Victor, Fairport, Farmington, and Canandaigua. We offer plenty of opportunities to engage in worthwhile pursuits, whether you’re working in the arts and crafts studio, taking a class, enjoying one of our social events, or going on an outing. Our picturesque, 122-acre senior living campus affords many opportunities to enjoy your time with friends and family, whether you are taking a walk on one of our many trails, joining in a game of bocce or horseshoes, or just enjoying our scenic setting. Call (315) 986-9100 to learn more about all that we have to offer, or check out our website and reach out if you have any questions.

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Dolores / Resident

I moved to Parkwood Heights in 2005 because I wanted to live closer to my daughter. The activities department was the deciding factor. I enjoy having so many activities and events to choose from. Also, when calculating my expenses to live in my home or to live at Parkwood, the decision was made easier because the cost was about the same.

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Ken and Bev Keyes / Family

Ken and I just want to let you know how much we appreciated having our Uncle in the Enriched Program at Parkwood Heights. His apartment was bright and inviting and the care he received by all the staff was wonderful. He could be independent, as well as cared for in relation to his needs. No matter what the day brought, the staff would tell us they loved their jobs and would always have a smile and a hug for everyone, helping to make each day a better day for those around them.

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Norma / Resident

I've been living at Parkwood Heights since November of 2000. I am so happy here ~ the people are so nice and there is so much to do. If I didn't like it here I'd be a fool.

Rosa
Rosa / Family

Here it is just a little over two weeks since we moved Bruce into Parkwood. I just wanted to tell you how pleased we are with Bruce’s transition and acclimation to Parkwood Heights. The entire staff and residents have been so very welcoming, helpful, and supportive.I see a remarkable difference in Bruce’s energy, health, and his avenues of interest….. We owe this to the eager and affirmative attention everyone at Parkwood has given Bruce over these past two weeks…Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how relieved, rested, and encouraged I feel since Bruce has joined the Parkwood community….

 

  

 

Tom & Donna
Tom & Donna / Family

On January 19th we moved mom from Florida to New York. We were pleased with Parkwood Heights, from staff to the lovely facility. It was a difficult move for mom at the age of 97 as well as us with the arrangements. From day one, all of our questions were answered and we were guided through the move as easily as possible.

Tom and Nancy
Tom and Nancy / Villa Residents

We had been looking around for about 2 years ... we knew that we wanted a spacious villa ... we came to Parkwood because we wanted to do things and they had just what we were looking for. There are so many activities to choose from, places to go and people to visit with. We love it here.