By Michelle Ferara

There are many positive benefits for the elderly in the wonderful world of gardening.  Nature has a therapeutic component: lowers stress, improves sleep, calms agitation, reduces pain, improves focus, creates a sense of purpose and accomplishment-leads to increased self-esteem.  Sensory stimulation includes beauty, fragrance, peace, music and butterflies, birds and bees; and this can be accomplished with both indoor and outdoor gardening.  Many retirement and nursing homes now feature some type of nature-many have indoor skylights with a plant and water feature, often accompanied with birds or music as well as outdoor enclosed garden areas with wide pathways and seating.

The ‘accessibility gardening movement’ is thriving at nurseries and garden centers and includes ergonomic tools with brightly coloured handles, raised garden beds, garden carts with built in seating, and plants specifically for ease of gardening and bright colours…everything to accommodate limited energy and mobility as well as vision and hearing.

The Hamilton Community Gardening Network (HCGN) is a city-wide program that helps build and sustain community gardens, since 2007. Currently they have 95 gardens in the database including gardens for beautification, communal, donation, tenant, school, and numerous ‘victory gardens’.  The HCGN provides workshops and events as well as community resources-so that in addition to gardening, it is also a social outlet and community connection-yet another reason for the elderly to participate.

Put the ‘bloom’ back in your cheeks-start gardening!