Gardening is a hobby everyone, even seniors, can enjoy. As the weather turns more favorable, planting a garden and watching it grow is rewarding and has many benefits as we age.
Gardening gets us in the fresh air and helps us connect with nature. There are also health benefits as we watch our flowers or veggies grow. It relieves stress, increases serotonin levels, boosts the immune system, is a good exercise, and may lower the risk of dementia.
Gardening for Seniors with Alzheimer’s & Dementia
While gardening can help lower the risk of dementia, it can also serve as a form of therapy for those dealing with dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Many family caregivers enjoy gardening with their aging loved one. Some facilities offer therapeutic gardens to help residents better stimulate their senses.
Gardening can also help with eating habits if seniors are planting, growing, and then enjoying what they sow.
If gardening was a joyful hobby prior to memory problems, bringing it back can also provide a sense of comfort since many people with Alzheimer’s remember the things that made them most happy.
The calm setting of the garden — even if it’s just a few containers on a porch — can provide a serene environment for those dealing with memory issues.
How to Start Gardening with Your Senior
Consider the area available for gardening. If you have room to install a raised garden bed, that might be an ideal option. Waist-high raised beds help to eliminate bending and can make seeding, weeding, and harvesting a snap. Planters on tables or wide walls work well too.
Here are a few additional tips:
- As days get warmer, work in the mornings and evenings when the sun is less intense.
- Bring plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Wear sturdy shoes, a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and gardening gloves.
- Move from one activity to another to avoid straining any particular muscle group.
- Paint tool handles in neon colors or wrap them in brightly colored tape so they’re easy to find if dropped.
- If gardening tools are difficult to hold or control, try wrapping foam or gripping tape around the handles to make them thicker and easier to control.