Gardening is a common pastime for all ages. For some, gardening is more than a hobby. Tending and cultivating a garden has several physical and mental health benefits. Current research suggests it may even help alleviate symptoms of depression in older adults.
4 Ways Gardening Can Prevent Depression
- Gives seniors a sense of purpose.
After retirement, many seniors struggle to find a sense of purpose. With their kids fully grown, they might not feel needed. Feeling useless can lead to sadness and depressive thoughts.
Horticulture can help seniors regain their sense of purpose by giving them something to nurture. Maintaining a garden takes consistent work, and plants need to be tended daily to survive. Not only can gardening give seniors responsibility, but it can also be a reason to get up in the morning.
- Keeps the mind active.
It can be challenging to maintain an active mind after retirement. Studies show that the saying “use it or lose it” applies to the brain. Regularly performing mentally stimulating activities sustains cognitive health longer and increases the ability to fight mental health issues like depression.
Starting a garden can keep the mind active because it requires constant learning. For plants to thrive, gardeners need to know their optimal growing conditions and how to care for them. Horticulture can also activate the mind by stimulating the senses. Gardens are full of colors, smells, and textures.
- Promotes exercise.
Exercise is known to reduce anxiety and depression, but it can be particularly beneficial for older adults. Studies suggest exercise can help seniors maintain their physical functioning and delay (if not prevent) the onset of some chronic conditions—most of which can contribute to depression.
Gardening can be an effective form of exercise for older adults. It requires physical movements for weeding, harvesting, pruning, watering, and rearranging.
- Helps seniors feel connected.
Social connections are essential for mental health. Unfortunately, many seniors struggle to make friends after retirement. Without coworkers and frequent social outings, seniors can become lonely and isolated. This disconnect can worsen depression.
Not only can gardening help seniors feel connected to other living things, but it can also help seniors make friends. The horticulture community is vast. Gardening stores, trade shows, and online forums are great ways for seniors to connect with fellow horticulturists.
Staying Safe While Gardening
Like any age group, seniors should take proper precautions when starting an activity. Here are a few ways senior gardeners can stay healthy:
- Accommodate mobility limitations. It’s common for people to experience mobility challenges as they age. Seniors can make modifications to accommodate their restrictions. Using raised flower beds, for example, can reduce how far they need to bend down. There are also tools specially designed to minimize discomfort in those with disabilities.
- Warm up. Gardening is a form of exercise; therefore, seniors should warm up. Taking the time to stretch before starting can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
- Take proper sun precautions. When gardening outside, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. This always involves wearing sunscreen, but may also include protective clothing, sunglasses, or a hat. Also drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Gardening Is a Healthy Hobby
If you are looking for a hobby to improve your overall health, you may want to consider gardening. Tending to plants and watching your hard work come to fruition can bring a tremendous sense of accomplishment and improve your self-esteem.
Heritage Senior Communities Promotes Healthy Activities
Heritage Senior Communities encourages residents to participate in activities that improve their sense of well-being. The best way to learn how we help our residents thrive is to visit. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.