Seniors dig their gardens
Many seniors have shared their joy of gardening with their children and grandchildren over the years. Having learned from our elders, we carry on the love they’ve given us by planting and growing our own flowers, fruits and vegetables.
It’s now our turn as caregivers to share new, accessible gardens and the fulfillment of getting our hands dirty again with our senior loved ones as they age. Many seniors find that the effects of aging on joints, muscles and the freedom of movement have prohibited them from tending to their beloved gardens. But that can be changed!
— plants that grow vertically are more easily accessible for those with mobility limitations. There are different kinds of commercially available products that can grow in hanging containers, upside down, trellises or using garden towers.
Growing in raised beds
— an advantage is that they are easy to reach, even from a wheelchair or seated position, if balance or endurance is a problem. Garden boxes can be elevated on legs or built up beds can be lined with materials such as railroad timbers that allow space for a seat for gardeners to work and rest. Two to 3 feet in height is typically ideal for easiest accessibility.
Planting container gardens
— if space or mobility is limited, use a container to grow specific items such as flowers, herbs or vegetables from patios or porches for accessibility.
Plant in found items, such as a pallet
— an old wooden pallet is transformed with herbs and flowers interspersed between slats and stands on its side for easy reach.
Maintenance friendly commercially available planting soil
— using this specially prepared soil will reduce the need for weeding, tilling hard soil and other labor intensive preparation. This soil also has the ability to hold and disperse water to the plant roots more effectively.
— some garden containers that are commercially available have a capacity to self-water so if seniors are unable to water daily the plants will still continue to grow well. You can also fashion your own self-watering containers using reservoirs and garden hoses.
If going outside isn’t an option, try using inside plant stands with fluorescent lighting. It provides the same benefits of physical and mental activity in a more convenient form. You can purchase specially made indoor gardens that provide light and growing trays.
Don’t forget adequate shade areas, garden hats with wide brims, garden gloves to protect sensitive skin, seating, convenient portable stools, knee pads, ergonomic garden tools and easy to maneuver paths so that everyone can enjoy gardening.
Aging shouldn’t be the reason to stop enjoying a lifelong activity — at least not without a fight. Giving your senior a way to continue to engage in gardening, either on a small or somewhat larger scale, can provide many benefits. Try some of these ideas and enjoy the harvest!
For more information on aging related issues contact Elderbridge Agency on Aging at www.elderbridge.org, or by calling 800-243-0678. You may also contact LifeLong Links at www.lifelonglinks.org, or by calling 866-468-7887.