Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Gardening tips for older adults.
Maegan Garlock – Wellness Director
Click here to watch the WZZM13 Senior Wellness segment on this topic.
Spring is upon us and with it comes the feelings of new growth and rejuvenation. Michiganders are eager to feel the warm air and see flowers begin to grow from the recently snow-covered ground. The stores are stocking potting soil, seeds and other gardening items. Yes, we are ready for spring! Many of us will try our hands at gardening this time of year.
Gardening is great for people of all ages.
Older adults are no exception. Gardening does not have to be a big endeavor to experience benefits. One of the beautiful aspects of gardening is that it is adaptable. We can garden in a number of ways. Sure, the traditional vegetable garden in the backyard may be what one commonly thinks of. Many people are also now familiar with raised garden beds. These are typically made of wood and built up a few feet from the ground. At Porter Hills Village, we grow vegetables off our dining room in garden boxes. Our residents are able to access the plants at a level that is accessible and allows them to view the plant growth up close. Vertical gardens are also becoming more popular. By installing trellises, poles or other bracings and planting vegetables at the base, plants are able to grow upward. This does not require a lot of space and avoids the need to crouch, bend and kneel on the ground.
Did you know that you can sprout your own plants from the remnants of items from your own refrigerator?
Try placing the ends of lettuces, onions, celery and other vegetables in shallow trays of water. After a few days, you may notice new growth. After a couple of weeks, these are able to be transplanted into pots or into the ground for further growth, if desired. Otherwise, enjoy having a vegetable garden right in your kitchen window.
Gardening promotes wellness in many ways and can be enjoyed by people of all physical and cognitive abilities.
Gardening promotes stimulation of all of the senses. Becoming a part of nature, one can feel a connection to the world around them. Having a project can provide a sense of purpose and achievement. Gardening can also provide a source of social interaction. The products of gardening can be used to create other crafts, such as table centerpieces, floral arrangements and wreaths. One could also share the abundance of their garden with others. Simply observing gardens has been shown to boost emotional health and improve overall happiness.
Gardening can also benefit physical wellness.
It is a form of exercise. One may experience aerobic, range of motion and strength improvements. Some studies have shown an improvement in a person’s pain through regular gardening. Eating fresh vegetables from the garden is a way to improve one’s nutritional intake as well.
Some people may feel that gardening is too difficult due to physical limitations.
The good news is that equipment can sometimes be adapted to meet your needs. Try using tools with longer handles, allowing for less effort when digging or cutting. Using foam, tape or plastic tubing can also provide better grip on handles.
Always remember to use precautions when working outside.
When enjoying your gardening experience, be sure to avoid the hottest part of the day (between 11:00 and 1:00) and apply sunscreen. Also be mindful to protect your skin from cuts, scratches and other irritations that can sometimes occur when working with plants. Wear gloves, long sleeve shirts and pants made of lighter materials. Avoid injuries by wearing sturdy shoes and use equipment appropriately. And, because gardening is work, drink plenty of water and take breaks.
If you are still not convinced to take up your own gardening projects, there are still ways you can engage in gardening. Visit local gardens such as Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Tulip Time in Holland or take a trip to one of the local college campuses to see the works of professionals. Local farmer’s markets will open soon and are a great option for participating in the works of gardeners. Or, simply placing an arrangement of flowers in your home can evoke feelings of happiness. Spring is here!