Gardening has been around for millennium. Great gardens have provided food and medicine for people since the beginning of time. But, are there specific ways that the elderly can benefit from gardening as opposed to other hobbies? Absolutely!
Benefit #1: Nourishment. Gardening can
provide nourishment for the gardener, their family, and their friends & neighbors, if their thumb is especially green. Oftentimes the nutritional value is higher from garden produce than from that of produce bought in a store since it hasn't had to travel to it's selling location. Health benefits also include breathing fresh air & being in the sunshine which provides essential vitamin D to the gardener.
Benefit #2: A Sense of Community. Especially if the garden is done in conjunction with others or even in a smaller community where backyard gardens are visible by neighbors, gardens are often gathering places for people who enjoy nature & a sense of purpose. Providing adequate seating in a garden can invite people to enter & sit while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature all around them.
Benefit #3: A Sense of Purpose. Gardens often have this effect on people. During wars of the past, gardens were instrumental in a nation's survival. For our friends who have survived those times, they'll immediately feel a sense of purpose when working in a garden. There may also be other ways that excess garden produce could be donated to food shelves or needy families that would increase the feelings of goodwill in gardening to extend beyond one person's immediate need.
Benefit #4: Economy. While start-up costs for gardens can be a little expensive, there are many economic benefits to growing one's own food. The cost of the food itself is the price of a few seeds & possibly the transport of manure from a farm. The cost of transportation is lowered because of fewer trips to the market. The cost of physical therapies may very well be lowered because of the exercise gained through working the soil & raising plants.
Benefit #5: Beauty. Even if one chooses to exclusively raise flowers in the garden, the beauty brought forward to the individual & community would be benefit enough. We all need natural space to enjoy & be rejuvenated. That beauty can oftentimes be brought indoors for continued enjoyment.
Benefit #6: Help for another generation:
There are fewer people that understand how to garden in the younger generations than there were in those of yesteryear. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits for both those who are elderly & those who are younger is the passing on of information about the “how to's” of gardening. As we learn from those who are older we are enriched. As they pass on the information, they are enriched. It is a benefit that can not be measured monetarily, but one of the most valuable, by far.