The virus shutdown has affected almost everyone across the country, but busy seniors in Fort Worth are finding ways to stay occupied and engaged. Small-plot gardening is now the new trend in senior fun for residents at The Vantage at Cityview. Our active residents are engaging in some hands-on gardening, even if that means some social distancing and extra hand sanitizer.
A 2006 Australian study that tracked 2,805 men and women 60 years and older over 16 years showed a 36 percent lower risk of developing dementia for those engaged in gardening. But getting down and dirty with seeds and soil delivers many more immediate payoffs for today's seniors in Fort Worth. Below are five additional benefits of getting dirt under your fingernails with a home garden.
1. Relieves Stress/Improves Self-Esteem
Digging, weeding, planting, and watering are all physical activities that allow the mind to focus on productive and rewarding tasks. Studies show that physical activities and muscle coordination can increase both dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, causing calm and reducing stress.
2. Improves Physical Conditioning, Motor Skills, and Endurance
Coordination, agility, flexibility, muscle strength and tone, and joint health can all improve with physical efforts associated with gardening, such as digging and planting. Hand-eye coordination and balance are helped by bending and stooping. Also, making sure plants are weeded and pruned can burn calories and help with weight control.
3. Increases Vitamin D Levels
Bones can become brittle and thin without an adequate supply of vitamin D. Though studies of how much time in the sun the body needs to synthesize vitamin D have proved inconclusive, experts suggest that from 5-30 minutes is sufficient. Seniors in Fort Worth are spending this time gardening as a way to maintain the vitamin D levels everyone needs. Also, some recent reports have suggested that vitamin D helps prevent COVId-19.
4. Reduces Risks of Diseases Such as Osteoporosis
As people age, bones become less dense and are subject to breaking or fracturing. Exercise places stress on bones, which in turn activates bone cells to build bone density. As a result, bones stay healthy for longer and can stand up to greater weight-bearing stresses. Moving around a garden helps activate bone-building cell activity, which helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.
5. Yields Nutritious Food or Beautiful Flowers
Though healthy activities are a great side-benefit of gardening, such a project won't be the same without relishing the delicious vegetables or herbs produced by all the hard work. Or, a well-maintained flower garden is a great way to add a bouquet of color and freshness to a room or apartment.
Like many projects, half the fun for seniors in Fort Worth is planning the garden. The active and engaged residents at The Vantage at Cityview enjoy selecting seeds, preparing the soil, and watching over the plants as they sprout and mature. Then, as vegetables ripen or flowers bloom, it's time to harvest the work’s bounty.
Nothing tastes better than a homegrown salad with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs. Harvest time is the time to indulge. Take photos of your work and, if social distancing rules permit, give flowers or vegetables away to friends. As the produce matures, it's time to sit back with a refreshing drink, pat yourself on the back, and admire your efforts.
It’s easy to feel enthusiastic when working on a new project. The fresh air, sunshine, and feel of nature can tend to make us indulge and forget to stay healthy while we enjoy ourselves. Though time outside working in a garden can have significant health benefits, seniors in Fort Worth need to keep these health tips in mind:
- Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water
- Limit your time outside to prevent excessive sun exposure/wear a hat
- Watch out for tripping hazards, such as loose rocks, roots, or holes
- Carry your cellphone in case you must call for help
The Vantage at Cityview in Fort Worth is dedicated to the health and safety of our residents and staff. We have instituted necessary measures per community guidelines to guard against infection and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Even though the current pandemic has limited access and movement, it’s not too early to consider the kind of retirement center that’s right for you. If you have questions or comments, please connect with us via our website or by phone at (817) 292-5600.