The Benefits of Senior Gardening

A Guide to Gardening for Seniors in 2024

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Gardening is a hobby everyone can enjoy, including seniors. Planting a garden and seeing it grow is rewarding within itself, but the activity of gardening also has many other benefits as we age. Read on to learn more about the benefits of gardening for older adults.

Health Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

Gardening gives us fresh air and helps us connect with the environment. But, did you know there are also health benefits as we watch those flowers grow?

  • Gardening relieves stress. Alleviating stress is something we look to do at any age. Researchers found that gardening can lower levels of cortisol, which causes stress, high blood pressure, and even affects glucose levels.1
  • Gardening increases serotonin levels. Just as gardening lowers our cortisol levels, it also raises our serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps put you in a good mood and keeps you calm.
  • Gardening boosts the immune system. Studies have shown that spending time in the garden can also boost the immune system. The so-called “friendly soil bacteria” (Mycobacterium vaccae) found in garden dirt has been found to alleviate problems like asthma, psoriasis, and asthma. So, go ahead and get your hands dirty! It’s good for you!
  • Gardening is good exercise. While you may not be running a 5k, there’s no doubt that gardening gets the blood pumping. Bending, squatting, and pulling weeds takes a lot of physical energy. Any type of exercise is good for the body and can help slow down the aging process. It may be a good idea to get some stretches in before you hit the garden to avoid straining a back muscle or injuring something else.
  • Gardening may lower the risk of dementia. Gardening requires a lot of hand/eye coordination, as well as sensory awareness. This may be why researchers have found that it helps to lower the risk of dementia.2

Gardening for Seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

While gardening can help lower the risk of dementia, it can also serve as a form of therapy for those dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Some memory care facilities offer therapeutic gardens to help residents better stimulate their senses. Gardening can also help with eating habits if residents are planting, growing, and then enjoying what they sow.

If gardening was a hobby that brought great joy before memory problems set in, bringing it back can also provide a sense of comfort since many with Alzheimer’s remember the things that made them most happy.

The calm surrounding of the garden also provides a serene environment for those dealing with memory issues. Many gardens for those with Alzheimer’s will be shaped like the number eight because dead ends can prompt more confusion. Care facilities consider this and put up safeguards to prevent patients from mistakenly wandering off.

Gardening in Senior Living

Besides facilities dedicated to memory care, some other senior living facilities offer gardening as a hobby for their residents. Senior living retirement communities may offer the greatest flexibility when it comes to gardening because many residents still maintain a great level of independence.

Pro Tip:

Pro Tip: Wondering what other types of senior living and care there are? Check out our guide to the types of senior living.

Some communities offer community gardens, which allow everyone to come together and do something they enjoy. This not only allows seniors to reap all of the health benefits of gardening, but also allows them to make new friendships and stay connected to those around them.

For those who may not be as agile or independent, there are other forms of gardening they can take part in. Tending to hanging plants or flower boxes is one option that some facilities incorporate. If mobility is a major issue, some residents can even plant seeds in pots and watch them grow from a windowsill in their room. This type of gardening activity may be best suited for those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Depending on the weather and environment there are also gardening activities that won’t require plants to have that much sun, making gardening an activity that can be done anywhere.

Keeping gardening manageable for seniors is key in allowing them to continue taking part in a hobby that provides them so many benefits.

  1. National Library of Medicine. (2022). Gardening can relieve human stress.

  2. National Library of Medicine. (2006). Lifestyle factors and risk of dementia: Dubbo Study of the elderly.

Written By:
Jeff Hoyt
Editor in Chief
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