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Senior Care Ideas: How Gardening can Help Seniors Stay Active

When it comes to senior care, studies have found that gardening lowers cortisol levels, which can help reduce blood pressure and even alleviate stress. Gardening is also known to increase serotonin which promotes peaceful and calming feelings. Whether a small vegetable patch or a bloom-filled backyard, gardening can keep seniors active while offering a sense of accomplishment and well-being.

 

The Multiple Benefits of Gardening for Senior Care

Besides adding the taste of fresh herbs to meals and the fragrance of hand-picked flowers to homes, gardening is a low-impact, high-value pastime. Cultivating one is an ideal activity for seniors. It’s fun, purposeful, and offers numerous health benefits:

1. Decreases Risk of Dementia

A 2006 Dutch study reported that gardening could lower the risk of dementia by 36 percent. For 16 years, researchers followed the habits of almost 3,000 people over the age of 60. They found physical activity, particularly gardening, was a factor in reducing the occurrence of dementia in their later years.

Additionally, this study of elderly people suffering from cognitive issues reported the benefits of a garden setting. The sunlight and the fresh air helped “agitated elders feel calmer, while the colors and textures of various plants and vegetables can improve visual and tactile ability.” They deduced that gardening improves the quality of life in aging seniors.

2. Provides Enjoyable Exercise

Gardening, a gentle form of aerobic exercise, is an activity in which most seniors can participate. They can go at their own pace because they are not trying to “keep up” with anyone else.

Also, it is engrossing work, and many don’t realize they are getting a bit of a workout. The gentle movements of reaching for tools and even pruning and pulling weeds support the development of new muscles and improvement of stamina and flexibility.

3. Combats Loneliness

Seniors can get trapped in a rut of television watching and other sedentary habits. These behaviors are isolating. When they have a Visiting Angels® caregiver to guide them, they are more likely to step away from their norm and become immersed in pursuits that make them feel less alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even recommends participation in community gardens because they are “collaborative projects.”

4. Increases Vitamin D Exposure

Because seniors can be unsteady on their feet and calcium deficiencies deplete their bone strength, Vitamin D is essential to help get those calcium levels up and bolster their immune system. An Italian study, published in 2014 on the National Institutes of Health website, stated that “exposure to sunlight helped older adults achieve adequate serum vitamin D levels.” Gardening is, therefore, the ideal outdoor activity that is both pleasurable and beneficial.

Seniors Find Balance With Our Care

Dr. Bradley Willcox of the University of Hawaii has said that senior care is all about balance. He studies centenarians in Okinawa because this community has the world’s highest ratio of people over 100 years of age. He says, “I use the analogy of a chair. Diet, physical activity, mental engagement, and social connection are the four legs. If you don’t have one of them, you fall out of balance, and it can shorten life expectancy.”

At Visiting Angels, we love helping seniors get out in the fresh air and giving them a balanced foundation for life. When it comes to senior care, our compassionate caregivers can help your loved one regain interest in a hobby they once loved or assist with cultivating a new one. Whether we support the tasks of daily living or help your loved one tend backyard blooms, we’ll always be there for your family.

If you're interested in more information about how in-home care can help your senior loved ones, contact your nearest Visiting Angels office today or call 800-365-4189.
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