Moving to a retirement community is usually a significant change of lifestyle for those who give up their home and take on less responsibility. It sounds like a perfect situation if not facilitated by a health reason, either physical or mental. Who wouldn’t enjoy having their every need met after a lifetime of caring for themselves and others?
Benefits to Senior Gardening
Many of those moving into the retirement community view gardening as a positive opportunity. Seniors may feel a sense of accomplishment from growing their fresh flowers and maybe even healthy vegetables. Participating in assisted living activities like gardening encourage being outside to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air; certainly, benefits to senior health. These may be activities they missed when working long hours indoors during their careers. Or perhaps they expect to continue growing after having their garden for many years. Either way, gardening in these communities promotes good physical and mental health and provides a means of senior socialization.
Remember the Herbs
Growing a garden at the retirement community has many possibilities for improved senior health and is a positive activity. Herbs are easy to grow and inexpensive when started from seed. If the chef at the retirement community agrees, residents can likely provide spices and garnishes from herbs needing frequent harvest. A cooperative chef or kitchen team at the retirement community makes residents feel productive.
Fresh herbs improve the taste of many dishes and are good for senior health. Rosemary, a perennial herb, grows year-round and is said to improve memory. Lavender, also a year-round grower, promotes sleep when a sprig is slipped into a pillowcase. Supervision by a staff member with knowledge in this area makes dispensation of the herbs safer and easier. Parsley, a biennial herb, grows well into the winter.
Other easy herbs to grow in a community garden include:
- German Chamomile
- Summer Savory
Many varieties of basil grow as a summer annuals and can make the garden attractive and fragrant. Fragrant herbs help keep damaging pests and wildlife away from growing vegetables. Rhubarb, sweet potatoes and berry vines make the community garden unique. Remember the cool season for growing leaf lettuce, spinach, and colorful Swiss chard. Plant these in late August for a full harvest in autumn. Some types reach maturity in 30-45 days. At two weeks, leaf veggies can go in salads as micro-greens. Growing these in gardens at senior living communities may encourage seniors to eat more salads. Organic gardens are sometimes thought to be healthier, with compost substituted for fertilizer. The healthful garden does not have to be all organic, but if that is desired, someone should oversee the purchase of products used.
The Garden in Conversation
Senior socialization, such as talking about their garden, is an excellent way for new seniors to fit into the retirement community. Long time gardeners often have tips and tricks to share with those not so familiar with growing flowers, veggies, and herbs. Working on a gardening project together provides a sense of comradery with such assisted living activities. Proper senior care will include supervision of assisted living activities like gardening. Our staff makes sure residents remain safe during such activities.
Gardening at the senior living community builds a sense of cooperation and possibly, even family. If seniors are interested and can help in the community garden, encourage them to do so. Perhaps you can supply vases for cut flowers to come inside to demonstrate their handiwork. Be sure to check flowers for pests before bringing them indoors. Make sure your senior has a straw hat for summer garden activities.
At Watermark Gulf Breeze, in Pensacola FL, gardening is just one of the ways we keep residents occupied and feeling productive. Our experienced staff provides a range of activities in our senior living communities. Contact Watermark of Gulf Breeze to schedule your tour today or take a virtual tour of our facility!