At any age, gardening is one of the best activities we can do outdoors. It stimulates all the senses, awakens our connection with nature and with our companions, and rewards us with fresh flowers and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Gardening is also an excellent way for aging bodies to get a moderate-intensity aerobic workout, shed calories and stay flexible. That’s one reason why gardening remains popular well into their golden years. Still, there’s no question that bending, lifting, kneeling, squatting, weeding and pruning – not to mention dealing with the sun, heat and bugs – all become more challenging as we grow older.
Fortunately, there are ways to cope. It’s all about emphasising a senior’s abilities and accommodating their limitations. Sometimes a little bit of creativity can go a long way.
Try these expert tips to help aging gardeners remain active and involved with their plants.
Tips for making a garden senior friendly:
- Reassess the garden with the goal of lowering its overall maintenance. Wherever possible, remove lawn and replace it with attractive groundcovers, mulched beds, and paved areas or paths.
- Add comfortable outdoor benches or chairs under shady areas for a convenient place to rest during gardening and a nice spot to sit and admire one’s handiwork.
- If possible, change outdoor steps to wide, curving, gently sloping paths. Use pavers or fine gravel to line these paths rather than chunky wood chips or river rocks. Paths should be at least four feet wide to allow walker and wheelchair access and wider at each end so there is ample room for the senior to maneuver and turn around.
- Install an irrigation system to cut down on watering and add low-voltage or solar-powered lighting to improve visibility on footpaths and steps in the evenings.
- Protection against pests and the elements while gardening is important, too. This applies for
both caregivers and seniors. Slather on sunscreen and insect repellents before putting
on clothes to ensure no area is overlooked. And don’t forget to protect your lips, use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 30.
Use the following tips to ensure you and your elderly loved one have a safe and enjoyable time outside together
- Work in the mornings and evenings, when the sun is low and it’s coolest outside.
- Bring plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Wear sturdy shoes, a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and gardening gloves.
- Bend at the knees and hips to avoid injury.
- Move from one activity to another to avoid straining any particular muscle group.
- Paint tool handles in neon coloirs or wrap them in brightly coloured tape so they’re easy to find if dropped.
- If gardening tools are becoming more difficult to grip and wield, try wrapping foam around the handles or sliding foam tubing on them to make them thicker and easier to control.
- Use manual shears instead of power hedge clippers to avoid accidents.
- Look into gardening products specifically designed for seniors, such as kneeling benches, ergonomic tools and rolling scooters that allow for both storage and seating.
- If a garden-loving senior experiences limited mobility or becomes bedridden, bring the outdoors inside. Plant a mini-garden in pots on the windowsill or create a maintenance-free terrarium in an old glass or plastic container. Simply having some greenery around will surely lift their spirits.
With courtesy from www.agingcare.com