At any age, gardening is a wonderful outdoor activity. Senses are stimulated as we connect with nature and we are rewarded with colourful flowers, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Gardening also has many mental and physical benefits to people with Alzheimer’s. Research indicates engaging all the senses provides positive emotions that those with Alzheimer’s may no longer experience regularly.
Gardening is also an excellent way for aging bodies to get a moderate-intensity aerobic workout and stay flexible. You will get plenty of exercise preparing the soil, planting, watering, weeding then harvesting those flowers, veggies, and fruits. Gardening can use as many calories per hour as walking or water aerobics and provides stretching and muscle toning.
Sometimes loved ones with Alzheimer’s may become more paranoid and withdrawn as the disease progresses, many long-term memories will be retained. Gardening therapy may help people recall those pleasant long-term memories and bring them back to a healthier time.
Gardening can give an emotional boost with similar benefits to walking or dining out. Working with others in a community garden can lift the spirits of those who gardened alone a greater sense of contentment.
Growing fruits and veggies is a great motivation to consume more healthy, fresh food in place of processed foods. Seniors on a fixed income experiencing economic insecurity are able to supplement their food budget with what they grew.
Gardening can give our loved ones a sense of purpose. Seniors sitting on their porches, receiving compliments on their flowers and plants from people passing gives them a wonderful feeling of pride and improves their self-esteem.
All of the benefits above play a part in another remarkable benefit of gardening: It has been found to reduce the risk of dementia by lowering the risk of health conditions that harm the brain, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
If you haven’t gardened in a while, or you’re new at it, this is a great time to give it a try. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can create a container garden or a few pots of herbs.
If your family uses in-home care services to support the well-being of a loved one, gardening can be a terrific activity for your loved one and the caregiver to do together. Your loved one can plan the garden and the caregiver can pick up plants at the garden center. The caregiver can help create beautiful cut flower bouquets, or delicious meals planned around fresh-harvested veggies.