Gardening is good for older people

Gardening has many health and therapeutic benefits for older people

Garden beds, equipment and tools can all be modified if necessary, so older people can create a garden that is interesting, accessible and productive

Gardening provides fresh air, exercise, enjoyment and fresh food

Your ageing parent must take care, however, to avoid falls, wear good sun protection and store garden equipment safely

Gardening keeps your ageing parent fit and healthy

It is an enjoyable form of exercise.

It increases levels of physical activity and maintains mobility and flexibility.

It encourages use of all motor skills – walking, reaching and bending – through activities such as planting seeds and taking cuttings

It improves endurance and strength

It helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis

It reduces stress levels and promotes relaxation

It provides stimulation and interest in nature and the outdoors

It improves well-being as a result of social interaction with others, such as going to garden centres and sharing ideas about plants, flowers and vegetables

It provides nutritious, home-grown produce

Physical and mental considerations to bear in mind for your ageing parent in the garden

Fragile, thinning skin meaning they are more susceptible to bumps, bruises and sunburn

Loss of peripheral vision means they must take care and generally poorer eyesight can restrict activities

Greater susceptibility to temperature changes and dehydration, or heat exhaustion, so they should take care whilst gardening to drink regularly and wear a hat

Falls are more common, because balance is often not as good

Osteoporosis and arthritis may restrict movement and flexibility

Adapting garden tools and ways of working to help the older gardener

Use vertical planting to make garden beds accessible for planting and harvesting

Try using wall and trellis spaces

Raise beds to enable people with physical restrictions to avoid bending and stooping

Provide retractable hanging baskets, wheelbarrows and containers on castors to make suitable movable and elevated garden beds

Find adaptive tools and equipment. These are available from some hardware shops and garden centres

Use foam, tape and plastic tubing to modify existing tools and make them easier to handle

Use lightweight tools that are easier to handle or have special grips

Create shady areas for working in summer months

Have stable chairs and tables to use for comfortable gardening and rest stops

Ensure that there is an easily accessible tap and a hose, or consider installing a drip feeder system for easy watering

Safety in the garden 

The older person in the garden can remain safer if they:

Attend to any cuts, bruises or insect bites immediately. For bites or stings, they should keep anti-histamine handy

Take care when using power tools

Secure gates and fences for safety, if memory loss is an issue

Ensure that paths and walkways are flat and non-slip and are regularly power-hosed to remove slime

Warm up before gardening and take frequent breaks

Prevent sun exposure by working in the garden early in the morning or late in the day. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen frequently

Drink water or juice regularly and avoid alcohol to prevent dehydration

Wear protective shoes, lightweight comfortable clothes that cover exposed skin, a hat and gardening gloves

Wash hands thoroughly after gardening

 

 

 

 

Responses

  1. Happy people live longer | My Ageing Parent says:

    June 14th, 2012 at 2:02 pm (#)

    […] meet new people, as is developing a new hobby, or even starting your own craft or walking group. Gardening is a great activity, which keeps your older relative fit, healthy and gives them plenty of fresh […]

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