Have you ever considered that tending a garden is actually good medicine? Research has confirmed that the benefits of a community garden are all-encompassing; it’s great for the emotional, mental and physical well-being of seniors.
The best retirement communities have their own garden programs as part of their overall wellness focus. If you live in one of these, or are considering moving to one, consider yourself lucky. You get to enjoy the benefits of a community garden practically in your own backyard. Need some concrete reasons to get a little dirt under your fingernails?
Here are 9 of the best reasons to catch garden fever this spring:
1. Great form of exercise – There’s no question that increased physical activity is beneficial to people of all ages. With gardening, you’re involved in lifting, carrying, bending, raking and more. All good movements to keep you flexible and strong. Even if you have limited range of motion, the gardens in senior living communities are typically outfitted with helpful features like raised planters, stumble-proof walking trails, benches, and even work tables at wheelchair height.
2. Improves/maintains small motor skills – Gardening involves working with tools and specific motions required for pruning, placing seedlings, etc. In fact, all activities associated with planting and tending have great health benefits when it comes to improving hand/eye coordination and maintaining fine motor skills.
3. Stimulates cognitive thinking – Of all the benefits of a community garden, one of the most important is that it’s good for brain function. Planning out plant placement and spacing, choosing the right tools, supplements and seeds, remembering what to water and when – these critical decisions all give your brain a great workout on a regular basis. Gardening also gives people a chance to learn plant and flower names and acquire information about plant care, all great for energizing memory function.
4. Good medicine for stress and anxiety – When you spend time outside in beautiful, peaceful green spaces, you can’t help but feel more relaxed. And when you’re out in the garden, your whole focus is on caring for the flowers, fruits and vegetables, not on your aches or worries. The act of nurturing and being surrounded by beauty is calming on every level.
5. Offers a sense of accomplishment and ownership – When the first flower blooms or the first tomato appears on a plant you’ve been tending, it’s a wonderful feeling, which is great for your mental health. Gardening is one of the most satisfying hobbies imaginable. When you work in a community garden, you not only get to see the results of your labor, but you also get to enjoy them for dinner!
6. Great way to meet new friends and socialize – Another one of the positive benefits of a community garden is that it’s a way to connect people to the land and to each other. There’s something especially rewarding about working on a common goal or project together. Gardening also promotes goodwill. Every gardener knows a good garden always grows more produce than a few people can consume. So gardening also promotes sharing healthy food grown in a local community setting with your neighbors.
7. Easy hobby anyone can do –Gardening is a hobby even beginners can master with relative ease. Typically, the garden in a retirement community is managed by an experienced gardener who loves to teach, guide and engage new residents with enjoyable garden projects. Most residents who get involved say it’s the most fun they’ve had learning something new.
8. Access to fresh air and sunshine – Studies have shown that exposure to nature in a gardening space and gardening activities can enhance psychological well-being and also lower blood pressure and slow heart rate. In fact, just spending time out in the garden without ever picking up a spade is beneficial and helps improve quality of life.
9. Promotes sensory stimulation – Research has shown that one of the surprising benefits of a community garden is its positive effects on many memory care Encouraging those with dementia to tend plants can stimulate the sense of touch, hearing, vision and certainly smell, all in one experience. Even cognitive function and past memories are stimulated through the act of tending flowers and vegetables in the garden.
Explore the Many Ways to Stay Active in Our Community
Life at Friendship Village of South Hills is filled with ways to have fun, stay active, and socialize with friends. If you’d like to hear more about our community, simply complete the form below and one of our team members will reach out to you shortly.