5 Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening During Retirement
June 7, 2018
Gardening offers therapeutic benefits for people of all ages and that includes active seniors and adults with dementia. Digging in the dirt helps to nurture and heal the body, mind, and spirit.
In honor of National Gardening Week, celebrated from June 3rd through June 9th, we are sharing a few of the therapeutic benefits associated with gardening during retirement years.
5 Ways Gardening Keeps Seniors Healthier
- Reduce stress and manage anxiety: Research published in the Journal of Health Psychology revealed that gardening can decrease cortisol levels in the brain. Cortisol is known as the body’s “stress hormone.” When you are feeling anxious and stressed, cortisol levels often rise. Seniors can combat that increase by spending time digging in the dirt.
- Improve stamina and physical fitness: Gardening can be a real workout. It improves flexibility, range of motion, strength, and overall stamina. The best part of it is that gardening can be adapted to meet a senior’s physical abilities. Raised beds, window boxes, vertical gardens, and container gardens are all safer forms of gardening for seniors. Even these lighter forms of exercise can help you stay healthier.
- Connect with nature and boost mood: Communing with nature and soaking up the sun’s rays can increase serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical that boosts mood and soothes the spirit. Remember to protect yourself by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses before you head outside.
- Reduce dementia risk: A growing amount of research indicates that gardening may lower a senior’s risk for developing dementia by as much as 36%. Experts believe the meditative qualities of gardening help reduce stress, which many consider a risk factor for dementia. Staying active also helps senior gardeners avoid some of the dangers linked to a sedentary lifestyle and higher risk of dementia, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Boost the immune system: Without a doubt, gardening is dirty work. But all that dirt may actually strengthen the body’s immunity. Studies have shown that a type of bacteria often found in garden soil—mycobacterium vaccae—boosts the immune system. This friendly form of bacteria might help reduce symptoms caused by seasonal allergies and asthma.
Gardening Opportunities at Legacy Senior Living
At Legacy communities throughout the south, we make gardening easier and safer for seniors. Residents at each of our communities can create vertical gardens using Juice Plus+® Tower Gardens.
See what Mary Katherine Fordham, an assisted living resident at Legacy Village of Jacksonville, has to say about being able to safely continue her hobby of gardening. She maintains three tower gardens using a process known as aeroponics. Visit the Legacy community nearest you to learn more!