April showers bring May flowers and as we wait and watch our garden grow, there is a lot of evidence that some form of engagement in leisure gardening, especially as one ages, may be crucial to continued well-being among seniors according to the academic research results of Positive aging benefits of home and community gardening activities.
The psychological benefits of gardens
Gardening certainly brings us closer to nature, but it also enhances well being and relieve stress, the research shows. Even viewing nature through the windows or in pictures can have a positive affect by lowering blood pressure and slowing the heart rate. And, in particular for frail older adults, simply being in a garden or viewing elements of a garden may provide benefits such as relaxation and restoration.
Additionally, it is suggested that our connection to gardens goes back to childhood memories and can offer older people a place to reminisce about the past. Social researchers have concluded that, touching a particular plant or smelling a certain flower may transport a person back to their childhood.
Further studies indicate that when older adults learn about new plants or plan new gardening projects, it provides mental stimulation as well. Learning about new plants, the history of gardening, or the Latin names of plants, for example, are all good for cognitive health.
Brookhouse Home’s gardens and grounds
The Brookhouse Home is very lucky to have extensive gardens. Additionally, the green thumb of our Building and Grounds Director Julia Coffin means visitors are always impressed with our mature perennial gardens and beautiful grounds. We also encourage our residents to explore and enjoy the extensive gardens on our property. This year, too, our residents are enjoying our planting and cultivating of what will be an abundant vegetable garden.
Top five health benefits of gardening
Here are five more health benefits of gardening for seniors according to 5 Ways Gardening Brings Health to Seniors:
1. Exercise and burning calories. Planting and pulling weeds can help you burn 200 to 400 calories an hour. Gardening gets the body moving by requiring some bending, squatting, stretching and pulling.
2. Muscle-strengthening. You don’t have to push around a heavy wheelbarrow to keep your muscles from weakening. A few hours of gardening per week will give you the workout you need.
3. Vitamin D. While you don’t want to overdo it, a few hours of exposure to sunshine will give you more vitamin D then a nightly glass of milk.
4. Stress-reducing. Gardening increases hand-eye coordination, which helps to keep the brain and body in sync. It also lowers stress-producing cortisol levels and raises serotonin; a calming chemical in the brain that puts you in a good mood.
5. Decreases risk of dementia. The physical demands of gardening and critical thinking skills regarding what to plant and how to take care of it reduces the chances of Alzheimer’s.