A garden in full bloom is pleasing to the eyes. More than what meets the eyes, do you know of the restorative gardening benefits for our seniors?

As our elderly family members spend more time at home, why not get them to start growing food with our all-in-1 kit. Here are 5 health benefits that gardening offer to the seniors:

1. Experience the healing effect of nature

We have an innate emotional desire for nature and other living beings. The benefits of connecting with nature are widely researched and accepted. The theory started with biophilia. It is a term coined by social psychologist Erich Fromm defined as “the passionate love of life and all that is alive”.

Being in nature is relaxing. It rejuvenates the soul and the body. That also explains why most of us prefer to go to nature for get-aways. By setting up a garden at home, you bring nature into your family.

grandmother harvesting vegetables from a vertical planter

2. Enjoyable low-intensity exercise

Gardening keeps the elderly physically active. Forms of gardening activities, for example, tilling, transplanting, and trimming. They are medium to low-intensity exercises that suit the seniors.

Over time, gardening improves muscle strength and fine motor skills. These abilities are important to upkeep the elderly’s independence in carrying out daily activities.

3. Promote relaxation and reduce stress

Gardening reduces stress. Its stress reduction impact is even more effective compared to reading. A study in Amersterm asked two groups of people to either garden or read a book for 30 minutes after a stressful task. The group that gardened reported lower stress hormone levels. The stress-relieving effect of gardening is much stronger.

Sick and lonely elderly experience great stress. Green spaces provide calming effects on patients and the elderly.

4. Improved wellbeing as a result of social interaction

Social relationships affect both our physical and mental health.  Human beings are social creatures. Social interaction gives us a sense of belonging and security. On the contrary, loneliness is extremely harmful to health. Gardening provides the seniors

Whether it is joining the community gardens or exchanging gardening tips with local gardening interest groups, gardening will have a positive impact on the elderly’s wellbeing.

5. Reduce the risk of dementia

Besides keeping the elderly physically active, gardening also keeps the mind active. An Australian study finds that daily gardening lowers dementia risk by 36%.

There are 2 ways gardening can reduce cognitive decline due to aging. Firstly, the familiar sights and smells in the gardens can evoke memories. Herbs or vegetables encountered in childhood or daily life are powerful memory triggers. Secondly, gardening activities such as sowing and trimming require concentration.  Brain stimulation keeps the mind sharp.

Garden therapy applies in eldercare

The health benefits of gardening have been well-established.  As a result, garden therapy or horticulture therapy has been widely applied in elder or patient care. Since 2016, the National Parks Board (NParks) in Singapore has launched 5 Therapeutic Gardens. These are outdoor gardens designed to improve the emotional well-being of park users.

They are located in these 5 parks. Check them out to get some inspiration in setting up your own home garden.

  • Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
  • Choa Chu Kang Park
  • HortPark
  • Telok Blangah Hill Park
  • Tiong Bahru Park

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