“Go out and garden” probably isn’t going to be found in any official guide to palliative care for Cedar Rapids area residents, but perhaps it should be added.
The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care will attest to the mental and physical boosts that this hobby can provide, which can make a patient feel better and improve their current quality of life.
While many find the act of digging in the dirt to be calming, even therapeutic, it likely won’t change underlying health conditions such as a terminal disease. But if it can brighten someone’s world for a few hours, get someone outside to provide sunlight and mild exercise, give people something fun to focus on besides their health and other stresses, and make a day memorable and enjoyable, then it can be of immense value.
The act of gardening itself can have even more usefulness – successfully growing flowers or vegetables can be aesthetically pleasing and give a feeling of satisfaction. Flowers can be displayed to cheer up one’s indoor or outdoor surroundings or given to friends and family. Vegetables can be eaten for a healthy meal or also shared – recipients will appreciate the gesture and the talent that went into cultivating them.
From a budgetary point of view, you also can save money by growing your own goods, and they likely are of higher quality than what you’d get at the store.
Even someone who doesn’t have much time remaining in their life may still treasure the act of planting seeds, hoping that whatever grows and blooms after they’re gone will help loved ones think of them fondly. A tree, for instance, can be an excellent legacy memorial that can last decades.
The AARP recommends gardening for these reasons and more, including a theory that the mental and physical requirements of gardening can help reduce dementia risk and also reduce the pain of loneliness.
As spring revs up, stray snowstorms aside, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about what to put in one’s garden, whether you’re new to this or have been enjoying the planting process for years.
Time to celebrate
Research into the greater value of gardening shows there’s even more going on besides the simple actions of planning, planting, growing and harvesting.
Somewhere in there are feelings that are more contemplative, where gardeners of any experience level and any age can enjoy moments of peacefulness and harmony, and perhaps be part of something more spiritual and profound.
You don’t have to be any particular religion or faith tradition either to enjoy gardening and perhaps feel like you are connected to something larger.
This season is a fine opportunity to learn more – May 3 is National Garden Meditation Day, when people are encouraged to “forget about everything else, take time for yourself, relax and meditate.”
Daysoftheyear.com claims that a blogger and author named C.L. Fornari, creator of the GardenLady.com site was the one responsible for encouraging people around the country to celebrate this holiday, not just on that day in May but all year long if they’re able to. She began by writing books and a blog but then began spreading the word about the mental and spiritual value of gardening through a podcast, consulting, speaking opportunities, and an annual gardening festival that raises money for non-profits.
Fornari is credited with being a big part of the current revival of gardening in the U.S., not just for food and sustenance but the joy the activity can bring people.
Options for those interested in taking part can include active tasks like digging, weeding, planting, deadheading, replanting or general yard and lawn maintenance. Focusing on these purely physical tasks without other distractions of daily life can nicely allow one’s mind to wander – the “mental” time” can help one think about one’s place in the world, try to figure out a tricky task, or simply enjoy the peacefulness.
There are other paths to a meditative state that don’t require all that work, either. Sitting on a garden bench or a patio table, enjoying the quiet, can be also soothing and tranquil. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the wind or weather, the aromas, and perhaps some wildlife.
You can spend solo time or even time outside with a loved one for a shared special experience where a lot doesn’t have to be said.
There is always value in pausing to enjoy the calming tranquility of nature but often people are so busy with their lives that they have difficulty going out and pausing to enjoy these sorts of things.
But someone in a palliative care or even a hospice care situation may now be able to spare the time – and find the gratefulness in these moments.
Gardening can even be appealing to those who aren’t in great health or don’t have a lot of endurance. Even people who don’t have a lot of space can still set up small beds or pots on the counter.
In a home health care environment, the staff or a health care provider in the Cedar Rapids area may enjoy hearing that a patient is trying to take part in gardening activities. They may even include some therapies that can be centered around gardening, such as stretching exercises.
For more information on palliative care options, visit Above and Beyond Home Health Care.