How Gardening Can Help Seniors Improve Memory and Bolster Longevity
May 8, 2020
Older adults who take up gardening have the potential to feel, think, and act younger due to the numerous cognitive, physical, and psychological benefits that accompany this healthy outdoor activity. Such benefits can be great for seniors who want to live longer and improve their cognitive skills.
For those who are considering getting into gardening or need a little motivation to get into the dirt again this year, we have put together a list of perks for both the mind and the body.
Gardening Offers Cognitive Benefits
A study in the Medical Journal of Australia, which followed people in their 60s and 70s for up to 16 years, found that gardeners had a 36% lower risk of developing dementia than non-gardeners, even when other health factors were taken into account.
Taking care of a garden also provides a rich experience that helps keep your senses sharp. In fact, some memory care communities, like the Lodge at Grand Junction, have specially landscaped gardens where sights, smells, and sounds increase residents’ relaxation and enhance their sensory perception.
Gardening also offers seniors a renewed sense of purpose, responsibility, and self-confidence, which can help fend off depression and anxiety. A 2011 study in Nature Reviews Neurology found that there is a strong association between depression and the risk of dementia, so gardening can be another tool in the arsenal against memory loss and cognitive decline
Gardening Helps You Live Longer
Because it helps keep your body active, gardening can help reduce seniors’ risk of stroke and heart disease and control high blood pressure. It also burns up to 300 calories per hour, and, according to the American Journal of Public Health, people who garden are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who do not.
Doing an activity in the sunlight prompts your body to manufacture Vitamin D, which helps improve your immune system and protect against certain types of cancer and heart disease. In addition, contact with the dirt’s natural bacteria, minerals and microorganisms can also offer immune-boosting properties and increase longevity.
Gardening is also a superior source of stress relief; Dutch researchers found that a half-hour of gardening helped subjects combat stress better than reading. Since stress and anxiety negatively affect hormones and increases the risk of disease, gardening can also positively affect seniors’ blood pressure, cortisol levels, inflammation, and more.
The Memory Care Neighborhood at the Lodge at Grand Junction is designed and staffed to support residents with memory loss and features an interior courtyard, fountain, and landscaped gardens. There is even a greenhouse on-site where residents can go with the team to tend flowers and a vegetable garden. To learn more about memory care at the Lodge, contact us at 970-470-8428.