Benefits of Gardening for Elderly Women

in HortScience

Persons ≥60 years of age comprise a significant and growing segment of the U.S. population. More than one half of the elderly are female, and as age increases, the ratio of women to men increases as well. Gardening has long been known to be beneficial to older adults physically and psychologically. Our quantitative objective was to investigate the relationship between gardening and life satisfaction, self-esteem, and locus of control of elderly women. Our qualitative objective was to investigate the motivations to garden and the personal, self-rated benefits of gardening experienced by older women. About 45 participants were chosen from 1) volunteers in a horticultural therapy program, 2) participants in a community gardening project for older adults, and 3) participants in a community health project. During the first of two interviews, the participants completed survey instruments measuring self-esteem, locus of control, and life satisfaction. They also provided brief information about their gardening history along with demographic variables of age, ethnicity, educational background, and income level. During the second interview, the participants expanded on their experiences as gardeners, relating information such as how they became gardeners, how they learned to garden, and what factors influenced them to continue gardening. They were specifically asked to relate how they have personally benefited from gardening. Results examine the relationship between gardening and the psychological well-being of the older women.

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