Great gardens have provided food and medicine for people since the beginning of time. Gardening as a hobby grows in popularity each year. Many people of all ages enjoy building, planting and cultivating a garden. 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 and 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 and a sense of purpose. Providing adequate seating in a garden can invite people to enter and sit while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature all around them.
Benefit #3: A Sense of Purpose
Gardens often effect people in creating a sense of purpose. During wars of the past, gardens were instrumental in a nation's survival. For our older friends who have survived and remember those times, they'll immediately feel a sense of purpose when working in a garden. Harvesting and eating ones own garden yield is very rewarding. 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 and possibly the transport of manure or dirt from a farm or local nursery. The cost of transportation and gas 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 and raising plants.
Benefit #5: Beauty
Gardens look beautiful. The variety, the geometry of the rows and the visual sense of organization. Even if one chooses to exclusively raise flowers or other non-edibles in the garden, the beauty brought forth to the individual and community would be benefit enough. We all need natural space to enjoy and be rejuvenated. That beauty can oftentimes be brought indoors for continued enjoyment. Keeping lots of colors and beauty all around can help those also suffering from short-term memory loss or Alzheimer's.
Benefit #6: Help for the next generation
There are fewer and 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 and 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.
Gardening - More than just a Hobby
The benefits listed here are just scratching the surface. And gardening can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The benefits for aging adults are definitely worth the effort!