This is a guest post by Felix Marsh
Elderly people who find they are spending more and more time at home can benefit a great deal from having a garden, or a patio with containers to tend to. The key to enjoying the freedom that gardening offers is to realise that there are ways for practically anyone regardless of their level of mobility or fitness to get involved with gardening in some shape or form.
Why is it so good for us?
Gardening is an excellent, low impact way to exercise, offering a broad range of both physical and psychological benefits at the same time. Whether you are growing ornamental plants or edible ones, spending time outside gardening can be a fantastic and uplifting hobby to take up.
We all know that getting outside in the fresh air is good for us and the responsibility of having plants to tend to can help to motivate us and reinforce this.
Types of gardens:
Raised bed and container gardening are ideal for people in wheelchairs and for those who are unable to kneel down making gardening easy for elderly people to enjoy. If you don’t have a garden then window boxes and pots to put on your patio or outside area are the option to go for. With a bit of help from friends and family you can get things set up and arranged how you want them in very little time and get started.
The psychological benefits:
Being outside in the fresh air, connecting with nature through physical contact with the plants and the soil is a highly effective way to avoid stress and anxiety, which have a habit of leading to a number of other health complaints.
People of all ages who enjoy gardening as a hobby find it an ideal way to unwind, giving them plenty of time to think and day dream whilst they plant, prune and tend to their garden.
As an established and proven way to relieve stress effectively, Doctors are now ‘prescribing’ gardening to individuals who have not responded well to anxiety and stress relieving medication. Whether gardening alone, or with others, keeping the mind and body busy with this constructive activity can be fun and rewarding.
The physical benefits:
When elderly people spend too much time indoors they are unable to get the proper amount of vitamin D they require for good health. Regular time spent outdoors ensures this essential vitamin can be obtained from the sun.
Gardening might not be a cardiovascular exercise for most people but it is an excellent form of low impact exercise for the elderly helping them to keep their joints flexible and stay in shape.
All the stretching, squatting, bending down, twisting and pulling whilst carrying out gardening tasks are the basis of this and like any exercise if done in moderation and regularly will ensure significant improvements over time.
The nutritional benefits:
Some studies have shown that people who grow their own food tend to eat more fruit and vegetables in their diet, so those who are growing their own produce are reaping not only the physical rewards of regular exercise but the nutritional rewards of the fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables they have grown themselves. The vitamin content of freshly picked produce is unbeatable, particularly if it has been grown organically.
Gardening is a fantastic way for elderly people to look after their health, stay busy and is a relatively inexpensive hobby. It is not about having a prize winning garden it is just about getting outdoors, getting regular low impact exercise and having fun.
Author Bio: Felix Marsh is a member of the team at Heritage Independent Living. They are a respected Live-in Care introductory agency that match experienced live-in or daily companions and carers with a wide range of people from elder citizens, wishing to maintain an independent lifestyle, to physically or mentally disabled clients of all ages.