Written by Brenton Cai, Horticulture and Landscape Design Intern

In this day and age, where many adults are hard at work everyday and busy with their own lives and day jobs, it’s difficult to get them to spend a lot of time with their parents, who are now in the elderly part of their lives. This can sometimes result in a sense of loneliness for some seniors, and many may take to eating unhealthy foods as a way to potentially cope. While this may sound really grim, there’s a simple solution to this problem: gardening.

By introducing gardening to senior citizens, their well-being can ultimately be enhanced, especially in the form of their daily nutritional balance. One study from the CDC shows that around 25% of citizens older than 60 eat fast food on any given day, and found that one of the major components that cause seniors to eat junk food is due to a lack of financial resources. Gardening can combat this problem by providing fresh fruits and vegetables, along with even fresh sources of dairy and meat if the garden is big enough to house animals. In terms of finance, it was discovered in a study on the Health Benefits of Urban Agriculture that approximately every $1 invested in one plot of an urban garden could yield $6 worth of vegetables for seniors to eat. Lastly, by practicing urban gardening, many seniors can get a sense of their own diet and have more confidence in controlling it, therefore increasing the chance that they won’t go back to junk food any time soon. By exposing senior citizens to the processes and the enjoyment behind gardening and producing your own food, they’ll be much more conscious of their everyday dietary habits as well, and seek to change them for the better. This is due mainly to the fact that gardening can also give numerous mental health benefits, which are inadvertently closely tied to nutritional benefits.

All in all, urban gardening is something that will definitely benefit any aging senior, by giving them a much more stable financial hold when it comes to their spendings on food, and by helping them become more conscious of their own dietary habits. It’s never too late to start gardening, and by doing so, many people, especially seniors, will be looking forward to a much more nutritionally balanced lifestyle.

Source: EGC’s Residential Senior Garden Steward Program

Sources:

Bellows, A., & Brown, K. (2003, January). Health Benefits of Urban Agriculture Public Health and Food Security. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from http://foodsecurity.org/UAHealthFactsheet/

Fryar, C., Hughes, J., Herrick, K., & Ahluwalia, N. (2018, October 30). Fast Food Consumption Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db322.htm


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