How Older Adults Can Benefit from Gardening

Woman with gray hair holding flowers.

Gardening has many health and therapeutic benefits for people of all ages. And it’s not only healthy, but it’s also fun! It gives people a purpose and reason to stay active and go outside. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a group that can benefit the most from gardening is elders who’d otherwise probably spend their entire day cooped up indoors with a tv remote and a crossword. We’ve got you covered if you’re elderly reading this and lack the motivation to start gardening. In the rest of this article, we’ll cover how older adults can benefit from gardening!

Gardening Helps Elderly People Stay Active

Some older adults are lucky enough to live near their kids and grandkids, which keeps them active from day to day. However, there are those whose children and grandchildren live far away, so they have less to do to fill their time with physical activity. This is where gardening comes in. Seniors who garden have the chance to work out and burn calories while planting and removing weeds.

Gardening has even been found to be an effective strategy to regain strength and movement after a stroke because it keeps less-used muscles active.

It Improves the Immune System

If you’re having problems with your immune system, starting a garden might help you! When you’re digging in the soil, it can get a little messy! But as it happens, a little dirt won’t hurt you. In fact, it could help you. Mycobacterium vaccae, a microbe found in garden soil, has been demonstrated to strengthen the immune system. This “friendly” bacterium has been shown to reduce the signs and symptoms of psoriasis, depression, allergies, and asthma.

It Reduces the Risk of Dementia

A large number of elderly people have dementia. However, gardening can help with this issue as well. Gardening keeps the mind engaged since it is a physical activity that also involves some cognitive processes. Overall, it is a fantastic natural therapy for seniors! In some studies, everyday gardening has been shown in studies to reduce the incidence of dementia by up to 36%.

Furthermore, gardening can also help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. Preparing a garden requires careful consideration of what to plant and how to care for plants. Seniors may find it difficult to drive, but frequent gardening can help them keep their motor skills while also increasing their strength and endurance.

Man planting a plant.
Gardening is not only a great exercise – but it’s also great for your mental health.

Gardening Helps Reduce Stress

Staying connected to nature is crucial for elderly citizens’ psychological health and wellness. Seniors were more likely to view gardening as a sort of therapy and a way to combat the stress of daily life, according to a recent study on how older adults can benefit from gardening. The study’s participants who enjoy gardening reported feeling less stress, falling asleep more quickly, and having boosted self-esteem.

Moreover, gardening also brings peace and reduces anxiety when you’re outside in the sunshine, creating a lovely spot to rest and unwind. For example, those suffering from anxiety or homesickness due to their recent move can find comfort in gardening. Planting and maintaining a small garden is a great way to feel at home in their new house.

It Gives Older Adults a Vitamin D Boost

We share more things in common with our plants than we realize. Like plants, people require frequent amounts of sunshine to promote their general health and happy aging. And, believe it or not, the sun is the best source of vitamin D. Most of the vitamin D your body requires comes from sunlight, which is why having an outside hobby like gardening helps ensure you receive enough of it.

Vitamin D improves bone regrowth and mineralization, enhances the food’s calcium absorption, and helps maintain muscular strength. On the other hand, a senior’s health may suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. Common adverse effects of vitamin D insufficiency include bone loss, impaired muscular function, and a higher risk of falls and fractures. Seniors may have severe consequences from one catastrophic fall and adverse effects on their independence and self-worth.

How much time does gardening require to get these rewards? While factors like age, skin type, and health issues might affect how much vitamin D you need, research suggests you aim for 10 to 20 minutes of sun exposure each day.

Two women examining a plant.
Some elderly people love gardening for the potential social aspect of it.

It Creates Social Activities

While many older adults start gardening as a way to kill time or bring life and freshness into their homes, some do it to be more social. Many elders enjoy the companionship of friends, family, and other relatives, but they don’t get it as often as they’d like. Loneliness results from isolation, which is unhealthy for elderly people. Seniors who participate in social activities outlive their counterparts who choose to live in solitude and have better health.

Community gardens give elders a place to meet and connect with both new and old acquaintances, fostering social possibilities. Additionally, it contributes to the joy of raising wholesome meals while enhancing the community as a whole.

Safe Gardening Tips for Seniors

While gardening is a beautiful hobby, perfect for older adults, it’s still important to do everything in your power to stay safe and protected. For example, it’s a good idea to use the proper tools and wear protective gloves to avoid hurting yourself. Moreover, as a senior, you should wear protective hats and sunscreen when gardening to shield you from extreme heat and direct sunlight.

Woman in straw hat near plants.
When gardening for prolonged periods, it’s important to shield yourself from direct sunlight.

In Conclusion

There are so many ways older adults can benefit from gardening. To many older people, gardening gives them purpose. It gives them a reason to wake up in the morning, water and weed the plants, and stay active. Moreover, it also helps them get healthier and feel better about themselves. Being outside in the sunlight promotes the development of Vitamin D, which, in turn, helps with immunity and bone strength. Moving around while gardening is a form of exercise that boosts mobility and lowers the risk of heart disease. Finally, it also lowers cholesterol and reduces stress.

Author Bio: Contributing author Christie Hendrix works as a writer and agent for, cross country moving company. In her free time, Christie enjoys spending time in nature, whether that means hiking or gardening in her small backyard.

Photos used:
Featured Image
A man planting seeds
Two women working in a garden
A woman wearing a straw hat

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