Gardening May Help Prevent Falls in the Elderly


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  23 comments   :  13,078 Views

For young people falling doesn't carry the same risks that it does for those twice, even three times the age of their younger counterparts. The risk of falling does increase with age. It has been reported that accidental falls are the leading cause of hospitalizations outside of illness in individuals over the age of 65.

According to a January 2003 report in the New Journal of Medicine "more than one-third of people over the age of 65 experienced at least one fall and in half such cases the falls are recurrent."

Falls carry a huge risk for the those who are older. Hip fractures, fractures of other bones and head injuries often lead to hospitalization and in some cases death. According to the National Council on Aging, falls result in over 2 million visits to the emergency room each year with 550,000 hospital admissions and sadly 18,000 deaths.

With the large number of hospital visits each year due to falling, it would seem like falling is a natural consequence to aging, but it isn't. Poor eyesight and hearing, along with poor balance and lack of physical activity as well as taking certain medications have been associated with the increase risk of falling. Factor in environmental issues, such as throw rugs and electrical cords and it is just a matter of time before one ends up in the emergency room.

While we can't completely prevent every fall from occurring, by taking measures such as removing environmental factors, discussing medication issues with your doctor, in addition to having your eyesight checked on an annual basis, hopefully this will prevent a visit to your local hospital.

But you may be surprised to know that like everything else we do to embrace a healthy lifestyle, even a short stint in the garden may help with fall prevention. And it doesn't take hours and hours to achieve the benefits.

In a recent report in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity evidence showed that gardners who worked in their yards one or more hours each week experienced fewer recent falls, had better balance as well as increased walking speeds compared to those older individuals who did not garden.

This study once again affirms the fact that any activity, regardless of the intensity involved, plays a fundamental role in keeping us healthy. With the baby boomer generation just now entering their golden years, we must all do what it takes to stay healthy so that we can enjoy our retirement years even if that means working in the garden for an hour or two every week.

Are you a gardener? If so, what health benefits have you discovered helps you in your own healthy living journey?

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  • 23
    That is what I need and will start after this hurricane is gone! - 9/11/2017   12:11:03 AM
  • 22
    I am almost 65 and I've been gardening for about 18 years. I love it and it is such a stress reliever. I just want to stay as healthy as I can and if it helps my balance....that is just that much better!!! - 2/7/2012   7:26:55 AM
    Ive been a sr for quite a few yrs already and luckily i never had any bad mishaps when i used to trip but then came upon time couple yrs ago had not fallen at all or over yr or 2. ive gardened in my poor soil and in containers tho havent had too much luck ; like to keep trying so got me more containers and bought more soil and again will try. so far only got my bulbs in the containers and around base of few trees . but i find that gardening is different in n.m.than in n dak. there i just putseedsin adnhada good veggie crop. and i still at it again . im awaitiing and nanxous for Spring to get here. so i can do more planting again. and watering etc which is also a good form of exercise form as i do not have running water and have ot haul and carry water in the watering containers when timer to water.. so to all of you who love gardening also... all i can say is happy gardening.! and a better fruitful yr coming up for our plants. Iloveteh sunshine whnitisnot hot adnbeing outdoors ineh warm sunshine andshady reswtingplavewhn itgets too warm . And always thank God for blessings . also the warm sunshine helps my osteoarthritis. - 2/5/2012   5:40:40 PM
    I'm not elderly, but do have fibromyalgia, so falling is a part of my life. Gardening is wonderful therapy for me--in short spurts, taken at a slow pace. It gets me moving, stretching, lifting, pulling, pushing, etc on a small level and keeps my muscles more limber and flexible. - 2/1/2012   12:16:32 PM
  • 19
    I do Tai Chi to keep my balance. Gardening can be a expensive hobby. - 2/1/2012   11:57:51 AM
  • 18
    hugs - 2/1/2012   11:57:48 AM
  • 17
    I love the feeling of life and agelessness when dig in the dirt... Then planting a mere seed get to watch life happen. Now that I know it can improve my physical health, i'll enjoy it even more. - 2/1/2012   11:23:44 AM
    I have been a gardener all my life. Unfortunately, I also had scoliosis all my life and have had 3 spine operations. Now my spine is so rigid that I cannot bend and gardening is just too much work so I have to give it up. Its just one more thing that seniors have to put up with! - 2/1/2012   10:48:06 AM
    i love fresh tomatoes so I have a small vegie garden every year, my son made me a raised bed a few years ago what a blessing, makes it much easier to water and weed. - 2/1/2012   10:15:15 AM
  • 14
    DH and I both have issues with balance. We are still active and take care of our yard, mostly flowers because weeding is a chore with arthritic fingers, We do exercise them but we also like to see our lovelt State. The flower beds are so much easier for us at our age and we can leave the when we take off. I am so glad i read this because the Drs. office only asks us if we have had falls. I am going to speak up and saty no falls but BALANCE issues so we can discuss those medications DH is taking for his heart. THANKS for the input. - 2/1/2012   9:58:51 AM
  • 13
    Ditto all the comments from everyone. I love my gardening time! - 2/1/2012   9:39:43 AM
    Gardening is my therapy never did it before and now it's my passion, always dreamed of it now living it! Yes, as we age, our balance is different and should take all precautions necessary. My neighbor, is 76 has health issues and had incidents falling so I'm more aware thru his experiences.He's also my country mentor and taught me my gardening skills I just talk to GOD about his wonderful FREE nature which helps our lives and added common sense. I love the feeling of fresh air and grateful for my physical strength from doing it all. If ya'll ever want to garden I suggest it WHOLEheartly and here's a link for those who think it cant happen cuz it can enjoy!
    Gardening.....simply..anyone can do it! Back to Eden Film! FREE online view
    Peace, Darlene
    - 2/1/2012   9:36:38 AM
  • 11
    I LOVE gardening but unfortunately it has not helped with my falls. So far I have fractured my sacrum & coccyx (age 26), R. arm (age 30), L. foot (40's), R. foot (50's), L. arm. (62) balance is horrible and has been since childhood. I have tried everything and now pray that my hip won't be next. - 2/1/2012   8:23:55 AM
    I absolutely love working in my garden. It gives me a sense of peace like I can get no place else. I love that it also gives me the benefits you shared today. Thanks Nancy! - 2/1/2012   8:07:24 AM
  • 9
    Great news! Gives me even more incentive to continue gardening and working in the yard! Just wait until you see me out there in my 80s and 90s! - 2/1/2012   4:34:50 AM
  • 8
    I love gardening. Not only is working in the garden a wonderful stress reliever, you also have the benefit of eating fresh food grown in a healthy environment. It's nice to hear gardening has other health benefits as well. I will garden for as long as I'm physically able, and hopefully that will be for a very long time. - 1/31/2012   8:48:25 PM
  • 7
    I'm 60 and my husband (67) and I been gardening on an acre for the past 18 years! I love every minute of it and enjoy the results of our hard work. That includes enjoying the beauty of the garden, but also in the health benefits it also provides. We have recently moved to a smaller piece of ground, but are intending to continue gardening into the foreseeable future. - 1/31/2012   7:51:45 PM
    I love to garden beside the physical work it calms me plus all the fresh vegies!!its great. - 1/31/2012   7:38:48 PM
  • 123ELAINE456
    I love to garden also. I live in an apartment building with no place to garden. Im looking forward to getting an apartment that has a place that I can garden. So enjoy the gardening when you can. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. - 1/31/2012   5:21:05 PM
  • 4
    Gardening is my way of finding a sense of peace and relaxation :) - 1/31/2012   5:17:46 PM
  • 3
    hmm, this brings to mind the time my grandmother
    fell over a hill while working in her flower bed, she was bruised
    up and shaken. I guess you have to be sure you are not gardening
    near any hills! - 1/31/2012   4:02:28 PM
  • 2
    I planted a garden many, many moons ago. Unfortunately, I ended up moving and traveling around. Now that I am older, and moved into my Mom's house, she was a avid gardener, I've started gardening, totally organic. I truly enjoy gardening. I planted an herbal garden, and a veggie garden. What I don't eat, can, freeze or dry, I share with those less fortunate and donate to the food banks here in town. I noticed the benefits of gardening when I decided that the Race for the Cure was a good cause. When I started training for the race, I noticed my legs didn't cramp near as bad as I thought they would. I also walk my dogs each day, and no leg problems. Yes, gardening is a good thing. And I totally agree with DowntownJen. - 1/31/2012   3:50:05 PM
  • 1
    Although I am only 48, I am legally blind and also have vertigo issues. I am also an avid gardener and have enjoyed increased stamina, balance muscle tone and general fitness from gardening. It would be easy for me to become afraid to go out by myself with the eyesight and vertigo issues - however, gardening gets me out and I feel confident walking my neighborhood unattend (except by my cell phone and white cane). Gardening also helps fight depression and saves me money on wonderful, healthy food! Long live gardening! - 1/31/2012   2:39:51 PM

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