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7 Reasons Seniors Should Participate in Community Gardens

Plant care can be therapeutic for the body, mind, and soul of seniors. Toronto senior home care experts take a look at 7 benefits your loved one can gain by joining a community garden.

1. Pleasant Exercise

Aging joints usually become stiff as a result of arthritis. Working in a community garden involves tilling, raking, digging, planting, and weeding, which can increase your loved one’s flexibility and boost his or her circulation. Gardening can help lower your loved one’s blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Even if your loved one has physical limitations, he or she can tend plants in raised garden beds. The physical activity can increase your loved one’s balance and motor skills, reducing the risk of falls. Tending plants can also refine his or her eye-hand coordination.

Gardening can be so enjoyable your loved one may engage in it for longer than other forms of exercise. A study reported by Gardening Matters found subjects spent considerably more time gardening than walking and biking. Overall, community gardening can be a calming and relaxing form of exercise. 

2. Quicker Healing

If your loved one is recovering from illness or disease, gardening can help him or her heal faster. The sun’s UV rays can spur vitamin D production, strengthening bones and increasing skin health.

A study published in Science found gazing at greenery reduces recovery time following surgery and infections. After surgery, people with views of trees needed less pain medication and had fewer complications than those whose windows faced brick walls. They also healed an average of one day earlier. 

There is a scientific reason for this phenomenon. Defusing stress can strengthen a senior’s immune system. Aging impairs immune responses, but proximity to nature builds stamina. Gardening Matters reports a 10 percent increase in local green space can reduce the effects of aging by 5 years.

3. Socialization

By giving seniors a place to meet and mingle, community gardens can reduce loneliness. Gardens often host special events such as concerts and lectures. Neighborhood and demonstration gardens attract people of all ages and cultures, providing opportunities to socialize.

Belonging to a group gives seniors a sense of security. Bonding with people he or she wouldn’t otherwise meet can expand your loved one’s support network.

4. Emotional Wellness

Seniors working in a community garden are less likely to be depressed and experiencing sleeplessness. Just 5 minutes spent in nature can reduce anxiety and anger and replace it with a positive outlook. Tending fragile plants can also cultivate compassion and gentleness in your loved one.

5. Cognitive Stimulation

Seniors who gardened when younger may have fond memories of the hobby. Nostalgia can connect elders who have dementia and short-term memory loss to their past. Awakened recall may stimulate impaired brain regions.

Focusing on gardening tasks can increase your loved one’s concentration. Seniors with honed skills can share their knowledge and expertise with novice gardeners.

6. Nutrition

Growing produce can stimulate your loved one’s appetite, which may have waned with age. Low motivation to eat can result from dementia, depression, and poor-fitting dentures. Other causes of poor appetite are reduced activity and dulling of taste, smell, and sight.

Community gardening offsets some of these effects. Physical activity raises metabolism. Pungent scents and bright colors can stimulate the desire for food, as can easy access to fresh produce. As a result, your loved one is less likely to be malnourished.

In addition, the quality of local produce is usually better than what is available in commercial markets. Fresh fruits and vegetables can yield luscious taste and potent nutrition. Some gardens sponsor cooking classes, further increasing your loved one’s incentive to eat.

7. Personal Fulfillment

After seeing the fruits of their efforts, seniors can enjoy the sense of accomplishment from gardening. If your loved one has no previous gardening experience, he or she will have gained new skills, and the flourishing plants can be the reward for the effort.

Community gardening can give meaning to life for seniors who have lost their sense of purpose. Your loved one is responsible and accountable for the plot being tended. For seniors on limited incomes, saving money on food is motivation. Some gardens donate surplus produce to food pantries, which can give your loved one the satisfaction of working for a noble cause and helping others.

You can further help your loved one stay active in the community and in his or her own home with help from Home Care Assistance. We provide hourly and live-in care Toronto, ON, families can trust, and our expertly trained caregivers can help your loved one live independently in the comfort of the home for as long as possible. Learn how we can help your loved one by calling (416) 488-8777 and setting up a free in-home consultation.