Gardening offers several health benefits, especially for older adults. The University of Colorado Boulder recently published an article about the benefits of community gardening concluding that “community gardening could play an important role in preventing cancer, chronic diseases, and mental health disorders.” Researchers observed that those who participated in community gardening were more likely to eat the healthy foods they helped grow and it encouraged people to get outdoors and connect with others providing a boost to their mental health.
Here are the top five health benefits of gardening for older adults.
1. Increased physical activity
The tasks involved in planting and nurturing plants like digging, raking, and weeding improve mobility by loosening up joints, increasing muscle mass, and helping build core strength for better balance and less risk of falls.
2. Better mental health
Older adults who garden report feeling less stress and anxiety, and increased self-esteem as they watch the progress of their garden.
3. Decreased risk of dementia
Being outdoors helps with relaxation while the act of planting and tending a garden helps with focus. Both are linked to a decreased risk of developing symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or other dementias according to a Washington Post article based on numerous studies from the last decade around the globe.
4. Better nutrition
Older adults who grow fruits and vegetables are more likely to consume them as well, increasing their intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This also helps reduce their risk of developing cancer, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
5. Increase social engagement
A community garden can bring older adults together to collaborate on what to grow and share their gardening experience and knowledge to benefit themselves and others in the form of a more beautiful outdoor environment and healthy fresh produce for everyone to enjoy.
Something as simple as a patio planter with a few herbs or flowers to tend to can improve an older adult’s physical and mental health. Jackson Creek Senior Living offers community gardens with raised beds and planters so that residents interested in growing flowers or vegetables can do so, regardless of mobility issues. We love seeing residents socializing with each other and working together to nurture plants that grow into beautiful blooms or produce tasty tomatoes, peppers, or strawberries. The socialization, camaraderie, and satisfaction of seeing the literal fruits (or vegetables!) of their labor make our community gardens an important part of our efforts to enhance the quality of life for our residents.