According to a 2016 IFOP survey on the favourite hobbies of senior citizens, gardening is second only to reading and sport. Half of them garden or do DIY at least once a week.
Whether you are in the city or the countryside, in a garden, on a balcony or even indoors, gardening is an excellent way to get some physical activity while enjoying the beautiful weather. Recommended for senior citizens, gardening is a source of well-being and allows you to appreciate nature while mobilising your motor and cognitive skills.
Many studies agree that gardening helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Maintaining your garden on a daily basis and seeing it evolve thanks to your care is also extremely rewarding. Gardening is therefore an excellent remedy for depression in the elderly! This activity allows them to take a relaxing break from nature, while promoting self-esteem.
Maintaining the garden requires a significant amount of physical activity (moving around, mowing the lawn, etc.), which improves their resistance and endurance and reduces the risk of cardiovascular accidents. But that’s not all: gardening provides seniors with excellent osteoporosis-fighting exercises. Kneeling, pruning plants, bending over to plant seeds and watering flowers – all these invigorating activities stimulate their muscles and strengthen their bones and joints. Physical exercise is highly recommended for good ageing. As a corollary, gardening can prevent certain pathologies (cardiovascular diseases, etc.). In addition to these physical benefits, there are also many benefits for the morale of the elderly. Often synonymous with calm and serenity, gardening helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It is an ideal activity to recharge one’s batteries and get some sunshine, and it is also extremely rewarding when the garden starts to evolve thanks to the care and maintenance provided. What a satisfaction it is to eat your own vegetables, to contemplate your garden in bloom and the work you have done! It gives the gardeners a sense of accomplishment and know-how that can be shared with family and neighbours. This activity promotes self-confidence and is an ideal remedy for depression.
Gardening also helps to stimulate the cognitive abilities of older people. The tasks are varied (planting, watering, weeding…), intellectually stimulating and help to sharpen the senses. When the senior citizen sows, plants, organises the planting, waters, selects his plants and vegetables, he stimulates his memory and his ability to organise himself. Sight is stimulated by the colours of the flower beds, touch by the work of the soil, smell by the scent of the flowers and taste, of course, by tasting the harvested products.
Some tips for gardening when you are elderly
Before embarking on the maintenance of your garden, several precautions should be taken, especially when you are elderly. First and foremost, it is essential to take into account your physical abilities and not to go beyond your limits. There is no need to exhaust yourself. Gardening is a real physical activity and requires appropriate preparation. It is therefore recommended to warm up and stretch before each gardening session and to stay well hydrated during the session. In spring and summer, it is essential to apply sun protection and wear a hat when outdoor activities are scheduled. Also avoid working at the hottest time of the day and staying still for more than 20 minutes. Finding a comfortable position for gardening is also important to protect your back.
In order to make gardening a fun activity and to limit physical effort, the spaces should be adapted to the abilities of the people and the possibilities of the garden. The creation of raised planters that avoid the need to bend down is an ideal solution for seniors. It is even possible to sit down to garden in comfort. For those who are frail, gardening should, as far as possible, be done in shaded areas or plots. Wearing suitable gloves and using light, ergonomic tools will help prevent injuries. Finally, it is preferable to plant resistant and easy to maintain plants in order to preserve one’s strength.
An activity to share
Gardening is good, doing it with others is better! Gardening gives older people the opportunity to interact with others. This activity lends itself particularly to sharing, daydreaming and creating strong bonds. It is an opportunity for the elderly to pass on their knowledge of gardening, but also to recall their childhood memories.
Gardening alongside other people is a real bonus: family, friends, neighbours, and even a home help… everyone can participate! Whether it’s to help with garden maintenance (mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges) or just a bit of company, it can keep people in touch with the outside world and get them involved in a new and exciting project. Outdoors, retired people find it easier to interact with their neighbours.
Gardening is not only a way to keep fit and healthy, it is also a chance to spend some quality time together. So why deprive yourself?
Finally, while gardening is a hobby for most seniors, for others it can be a real chore. You can delegate the work or get help; for example, have bags of soil, heavy materials or bulky objects delivered. Don’t hesitate to ask your neighbours for a hand. Finally, while gardening is a hobby for most seniors, for others it can be a real chore. You should know that there are solutions to help older people with gardening.
Institut amelis, « Seniors et jardinage : de nombreuses vertus pour la santé », Institut amelis, 19 Juin 2020. https://institut.amelis-services.com/bien-vieillir/bien-etre/bienfait-jardinage-senior/
Marie Vial, « Le jardinage : une activité idéale pour les seniors », Ouihelp, 20 Juin 2018. https://www.ouihelp.fr/blog/2018/06/20/benefice-jardinage-senior/
Silver Alliance, “Le jardinage senior : l’acctivité parfaite à la retraite », Silver Alliance, 10 Septembre 2021. https://www.silveralliance.com/les-conseils/jardinage-seniors-activite-parfaite-a-la-retraite/
Sophie Dolleans, “Les bienfaits du jardinage pour les seniors », Bonjoursenior.fr, 19 Mars 2020. https://www.bonjoursenior.fr/actualites/les-bienfaits-du-jardinage-pour-les-seniors#:~:text=En%20corollaire%2C%20jardiner%20peut%20pr%C3%A9venir,stress%20et%20de%20l’anxi%C3%A9t%C3%A9.