There’s a certain mystery of a garden that’s full of wonder and opportunities, never mind being able to cultivate that beauty for yourself. Doctors, researchers, and psychiatrists have discovered the impact that it has on our bodies and minds. These benefits of gardening also carry over to dementia memory care. Gardening makes you feel empowered. Why? It helps build up physical strength, cultivate happiness, improve motor skills, and reduce stress. In this blog post, we’ll highlight the numerous ways that having your own garden can benefit seniors in dementia memory care.
1. A Low Impact Activity
Of course, it’s known that when you spend time in nature, your mood and emotional wellbeing will improve. Maintaining a garden is an excellent way to reap the benefits of being outside. It’s a low-impact activity, which makes it ideal for seniors, and you’ll still get some moderate levels of aerobic exercise. That will help to boost your body’s production of dopamine and serotonin (the happy hormones). And, on the other hand, it will lower your body’s cortisol production (the stress hormone).
2. Vitamin D
There’s just one thing to remember: while it’s great to be outside, sun exposure can be harmful to older people due to their more fragile skin. With that being said, it’s still crucial to get enough sun exposure for vitamin D. This vitamin serves many important purposes, including improving your mood, helping you absorb calcium better, improving the health of your bones, and making your immune system stronger.
3. Improves Joint Strength
As we get older, our available motions and joint strength become weaker and more limited. Our activity levels also go down, which results in losing muscle strength and becoming less flexible. Gardening can be an excellent solution for getting exercise regularly, keeping the joints going, and keeping mobility going in seniors.
Stretching exercises can also be done afterward to limit the chances of experiencing injuries. Stretching also provides other benefits, including improved blood flow, coordination, balance, and enhanced control over muscles.
4. Lowers Major Health Risks
Exercising moderately and frequently is crucial for lowering the following health risks: obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, stroke, colon cancer, and the list goes on.
According to the CDC, gardening is considered a moderate-intensity exercise, making it perfect for seniors who want to keep the risks to their health minimal. Just two and a half hours a week will be enough to improve a senior’s health significantly. And the best part is that those 2.5 hours will be enjoyable, fun, and easier to get through compared to other types of exercise.
Gardening has also been labeled as horticultural therapy, which lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and assists with dementia.
5. Provides Mental Health Benefits
Gardening improves mental health in numerous different ways and teaches people the skill of punctuality. After all, you need to be present each day to keep the garden growing, healthy, and beautiful. The other benefit is mindfulness. Gardening encourages us to use all of our senses to engage with the activity – sight, sound, touch, and smell. Taste can also be a special reward for many gardeners. You must also keep an eye on your plants and remember critical details to keep your garden healthy and flourishing.
6. Promotes Feelings of Success
Maintaining a garden is an excellent way to stimulate positivity, feelings of control over your own life, and personal responsibility. By taking time out of our busy schedules to nurture the plants in our garden, we derive feelings of accomplishment. After all, the proof is in the pudding. We can see our achievements continue to grow day by day. Seeing the fruits of your labor can promote feelings of relief and happiness.
7. Creates Social Opportunities
And finally, not only can gardening keep you busy for hours at a time, but it gets you outside as well. It can create opportunities to chat with your neighbors, talk about common interests (which may include gardening), and result in some trips outside your usual destinations (farmers markets, gardening centers).
8. Caregivers Can Help
When people get older, deteriorating health or disabilities can make it more difficult to be a gardener. But that doesn’t mean that it will be impossible to enjoy gardening. If you’re a home caregiver, you can do plenty of things to help your senior enjoy gardening to the fullest. By coming up with a plan and making some changes accordingly, you can help create an excellent gardening environment for your senior.
9. Benefits of Gardening for Dementia Memory Care
Gardening can do a lot to benefit the lives of those with dementia, including their caregivers. As we said, gardening can be incredible for stimulating the senses. It can also connect seniors to the outside world. Besides the beauty and serenity associated with spending time in the great outdoors, maintaining a garden also provides one with numerous physical and mental health benefits, especially for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Having a garden can also create a sense of purpose and allows seniors to do small activities in their garden. Accomplishing these tasks adds up to feelings of confidence and success. Not only is it immensely satisfying for seniors with dementia to raise plants, but it also helps them feel more connected to the natural world right outside their home.
10. Relieves Negative Feelings
Tension and agitation are two common symptoms shown by people with Alzheimer’s. Gardening can be a great remedy for that, as it can help foster peace and aid in concentration. At the same time, it relieves negative feelings, including anger, aggression, and frustration. And finally, it’s a great way to exercise both the body and mind, as well as boost the energy level of your senior loved one.
The only downside of gardening as an activity for seniors is the possibility of injury, especially if they’ve had injuries or fractures in the past. If you’re interested in gardening as a hobby, be sure to set up an appointment with a healthcare provider to discuss how safe the activity can be done, how much reaching, bending, or lifting can be done, etc.